College Campuses in America: Ground Zero for Drug Addiction

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College Campuses & Drug Addiction

While biological, environmental, and circumstantial factors can be very influential in the development of addiction, in the end the most final determinant for whether an individual does or doesn’t become an addict depends on whether or not they choose to begin experimenting with mind-altering, chemical substances. In fact, this is often how addiction begins: Someone feels curious about substance abuse and intoxication or perhaps a specific substance like alcohol or marijuana, choosing to deliberately overindulge in order to see what it’s like to be inebriated on that substance. After deciding that they like the experience, these individuals become recreational substance abusers, which is the prelude to requiring higher and higher amounts of these substances to achieve the same effects. This often leads them to try other, more powerful substances, like switching from marijuana to prescription painkillers to heroin. Unfortunately, the pattern described is incredibly common in the subculture of alcohol and drug abusers, leaving them riddled with the disease of addiction and unable to overcome chemical dependency on their own.

As mentioned above, just about anyone can become an addict. However, there are certain demographics that are more susceptible to experimentation with recreational intoxication, such as college-aged individuals. Although it’s not uncommon for adolescents and teens to experiment with alcohol and drugs, the freedom afforded to the college-bound—allowing these individuals to live on their own, making their own rules for the first time in their lives—can lead to excessive celebration and even reckless abandon. Attending the occasional college party can turn into a nightly ritual of binge drinking and the consumption of dangerous drugs. As such, American campuses have begun showing very high rates of substance abuse and even dependency according to numerous surveys and studies, prompting many to assert that college campuses might be considered “ground zero” for substance abuse.

Rates of Alcohol and Drug Abuse on College Campuses

Going to college affords individuals an opportunity to learn who they are, spreading their wings under their newfound independence as they acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to be productive adults in society. However, college is also synonymous with partying; for example, although the Greek system is intended to be a social and scholastic fellowship, Greek houses—sororities and fraternities—are notorious for their wild parties where attendees can count on there being of booze and just about every substance on the drug spectrum at their fingertips. As such, substance abuse and chemical dependency has become a major issue at college campuses for several decades, prompting many to wonder how to curb these high rates of alcohol and drug abuse.

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According to a study published in 2007, the number of students of admitted to frequent binge-drinking rose by 16 percent between 1993 and 2001 while the number of students who abused prescription painkillers—oxycodone, hydrocodone, etc.—rose by an astounding 343 percent by 2005. For marijuana, rates of daily use more than doubled while the rate of abuse of hard street drugs like cocaine and heroin increased by 52 percent between 1993 and 2005. In recent years, the trend and rates of substance abuse on college campuses has shown continued growth, particularly as opioids like prescription painkillers and heroin have led to a national epidemic. What’s more, the prevalence of prescriptions for attention-deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) such as Ritalin and Adderall has resulted in many individuals not only abusing them, but distributing them to others in their social groups, resulting in rising instances of abuse of such substances on college campuses.

Why Do College Students Abuse Alcohol and Drugs?

With rates of alcohol and drug abuse so exceptionally high among college students, many have wondered why it is that these individuals are so chemically inclined. While part of the reason for the elevated substance abuse is due to newfound freedom and lack of rules imposed by parents and guardians, there are many other reasons that college students report frequently abusing alcohol and drugs. In a survey that sampled 2,000 college students, some of the most common explanations of drug-seeking and consumption behavior include the need to relax and deal with stress, fitting in with a group of peers, having fun, and having a way to forget their problems. Additionally, female students felt pressure from male students to drink alcohol, which can put them in dangerous situations as women tend to be more affected by the same amount of alcohol that is drunk by their male counterparts. What’s more, female students report feeling enormous pressure to have sex with males, using alcohol as a disinhibitor in such instances.

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Surprisingly, surveys and studies have also found that most presidents, deans and other administrators of colleges and institutions of education accept that binge drinking is part of the college experience, even often seeing it as a rite of passage. As these individuals tend to be more preoccupied with fundraising, finding and keeping adequate faculty, and many other functions pertaining to the administration of colleges and their campuses, the substance abuse rates of college students tend to be of low priority for administrators. In fact, a board member of one Ivy League school admitted that college alumni tend to resist the notion of drinking reform on college campuses as well as other related social practices due to the effects such changes could have on social and extracurricular activities, especially pertaining to sororities and fraternities.

Curbing Rates of Chemical Dependence and Substance Abuse on College Campuses

Much of the potential for instituting changes that would either inhibit further increase of substance abuse rates on college campuses or curb rates of chemical dependence relies on each institution’s administration. With addiction being so widespread nationwide, there’s a pervasive culture of tolerance when it comes to substance abuse, persisting even on college campuses. In order to prevent further grown or even decrease the rates of addiction and substance abuse on college campuses, a number of institutions have initiated alcohol and drug addiction education programs as a means of prevention and to deter individuals from taking the college experience too far; meanwhile, some institutions are also providing forms of treatment for those students who feel they have developed or are at risk of developing a problem with alcohol or drugs, which can include on-campus or near-campus twelve-step programs and other support groups.

If you or someone you love is suffering from addiction to alcohol or drugs and would like to learn more about recovering from chemical dependency, Ocean Breeze Recovery is here to help. We have a team of caring, experienced recovery specialists who have helped countless individuals overcome addiction in order to be sober, healthy, fulfilled members of society. Don’t wait—call us today.