Top 5 Most Used Drugs in College 2022

Is your loved one about to head off to college? Perhaps they’ve been there for a few years, and you’re noticing that their academic performance has started to slip and their social circle has dramatically changed. Well, college is a tricky time for young adults, and quite often it happens to be the time that a lot of these college students start to not only experiment but abuse different substances. This article will cover the top 5 most abused drugs by college students.

Here’s a list of the Top 5 commonly abused drugs on college campuses:

1. Adderall and Prescription Drug Abuse

Adderall and its “cousin” Ritalin are stimulants that are prescribed for the treatment of ADD and ADHD in the US, and it’s commonly referred to as “study drugs” on campuses. Students use and even abuse drugs like Adderall in order to focus more and work harder under their stressful workload. Many students become dependent on these substances in order to focus and finish their workload, which ultimately robs many of them of integrating healthy work habits into their lifestyles. Adderall use on a college campus isn’t just limited to the classroom, quite often this prescription is used recreationally as a stimulant for a student to party harder on the weekends. In fact, more than 60% of Adderall abuse is found between the ages of 18-25, and even though the number of prescriptions has dropped over the past couple of years, the number of emergency room visits has risen. Because prescription stimulants like Adderall are amphetamines, their abuse can often lead to users experimenting with Meth and other illicit stimulants.

2. Alcohol & Binge Drinking

It’s no surprise that alcohol made our top 5 list. Binge drinking on college campuses has seemed to become a norm. Ironically, the group most likely to be binge drinking on campus are those ranging in age from 18-21. There are a ton of ways to try and justify alcohol misuse in this age group, but the most common contributing factors are:

  • Social anxiety
  • Peer pressure
  • An exertion of their newfound “freedom” away from home
  • An urge to experiment
  • An overwhelming desire to “let loose” on the weekends.

There are more reasons that college students drink heavily, and there are many cases where these students are using alcohol to self-medicate for trauma, abuse, depression, and stress. There are mainly two types of drinkers on campus, the “weekend warrior” and the “daily drinker.” Unfortunately, the “weekend warrior” often becomes a “daily drinker” by simply pushing the boundaries that they’ve established with themselves. They’ll start to drink after class to “wind down” and “relax” and even start to bring their weekend party into the weekdays. This class of individuals evolves into either a “problem drinker” or an alcoholic if they don’t break the cycle. The “problem drinkers” are those who seem to have severe consequences most times that they take a drink, and the alcoholic is the one who has lost the ability to control their drinking.

3. Smoking / Ingesting Pot & Marijuana

Nationally speaking, pot use among college students is at an all-time high, and one of the top drugs most abused on a college campus. The drug has a social appeal, a cultural appeal, and even an appeal due to its relaxing properties. Smoking weed with friends at parties, and even in student housing, is incredibly common amongst the colligate population. The detriments of smoking marijuana at this age include but aren’t limited to, adverse effects on the prefrontal cortex, debilitating one’s lack of drive and work ethic, and reduced efforts in self-care. Smoking pot becomes a significant concern particularly when it becomes a daily habit because a student sets themselves up for psychological dependence, which diminishes their chance of excelling past their required workload. Their social circle starts to enclose on itself, and the daily user typically only spends time with other daily users, which harms a student’s ability in networking on campus to nurture relationships that could potentially help them in their future careers.

4. Ecstasy / MDMA (Molly) Consumption

When partying “harder” and “longer” become a priority for a student, drugs like ecstasy and MDMA become relevant. These drugs provide a user with a sense of euphoria and allow many people to “let loose” in a party environment. These drugs have been known to damage the brain, by flooding, and draining the nervous system of serotonin and dopamine respectively. Users often feel depleted for days or even weeks after excessive use, and often ecstasy users drift into a state of depression, which then leads to further use of the drugs to feel “good” once again. A lot of college students use drugs like these to improve the way they interact with the opposite sex, and it also allows them a shortcut to a euphoric party experience.

5. Pain Pills & Prescription Opiates

With the pain pill epidemic in full swing, it’s no surprise that prescription painkillers made our list. Prescription pain pill abuse has been increasingly on the rise, especially among those in the age range of 18-25. These pills are incredibly addictive, and often times those who have become the addicted turn to street opiates like heroin in order to get “their fix” once the prescription has ran out. College students turn to pain pills to relax further, experiment, and even treat sports injuries. There is an extraordinary number of cases where a student has a sports injury, gets addicted to the pain pills, and then turns to harder drugs like heroin and morphine.

It’s important to mention that college is a transformative time in every young adult’s life. It can be their first time living away from home, their first time establishing relationships in a new social circle, their first time being introduced to the vast information that college campuses provide, and even their first time being put under a stressful workload. Anyone of these contributing factors and even any combination of them forces an individual into a change in identity; the problem is when drugs and or alcohol become the coping mechanisms, for these common conditions and become the drugs most abused on college campuses.

As a parent, we urge you to keep your eye out and to continue to inform yourself about what to do when there is a substance abuse problem. Simply continue to be in the loop, and continue to educate yourself on the solutions for addiction, mental/physical health, and trauma. Each one of these things can be detrimental to the future endeavors of your loved one, and it’s essential to be equipped and ready when the time comes.

A Note on Fentanyl

What is Fentanyl? Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid commonly prescribed to patients who are in extreme pain or discomfort as a result of surgery or cancer treatment. Over the last few years, this drug has been synthesized illegally and distributed across the United States. It is particularly dangerous due to its potency and addictive nature. Fentanyl alone has been the main contributor to fatal overdoses in the young adult population in recent news, and more often than not, the user is unaware that they had ingested fentanyl. This is because illicit drug manufacturers are incorporating Fentanyl powder into other illicit drugs such as ecstasy, Meth, Xanax, or other prescription drugs to make them more potent. Many college students can become victims of this dangerous drug when ingesting other commonly abused drugs or party pills and suffer negative consequences. Parents

If you notice any common signs of drug use in your child, it is important to intervene as soon as possible to prevent accidental overdose and get started with treatment.

Last Updated on February 15, 2024


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