Students are on their own in college. It’s their job to make smart and safe decisions for themselves, but the newfound freedom of college is often too exciting to ignore. With the absence of curfews and parental rules comes liberating opportunities to test out many things – especially drugs and alcohol. Unfortunately, for many students, substance abuse follows.

Reasons College Students Abuse Alcohol or Drugs

Experimentation in college is normal, but college students regularly use illegal drugs or abuse alcohol – and the rate of substance abuse in this demographic has risen steadily in recent years.

College students are forced to adapt to a new, less-structured, independent lifestyle. They may turn to alcohol or drugs to help them manage temptations, demands, and personal goals, including:

  • Pressure to fit in: Everyone wants to find their people and may choose to abuse drugs and alcohol just to fit in.
  • Going to parties: Drinking and drugs are common in social situations and students indulge to loosen up and relax.
  • Greek life pressure: Those who belong to a fraternity or sorority have a higher rate of binge drinking and substance abuse.
  • Beliefs about substance abuse: Some college students think binge drinking and getting high are a rite of passage.
  • Academic stress: Concern about academic performance can push a college student to indulge in study drugs to help them succeed. Poor academic performance can be both a cause and consequence of substance abuse.

Commonly abused drugs used by college students are marijuana, ecstasy, LSD, Adderall (study drugs), cocaine, painkillers, and opioids.

What’s more important than the substance being abused though, is why it’s being abused. It is difficult for many people to manage the negative or unpleasant feelings during the time of transition from childhood to adulthood. And for those who carry a family history of substance abuse, college – where drugs and alcohol are readily available – is a time when their own DNA and likelihood of developing an addiction is tested, with negative consequences.

Mental Health and Substance Abuse Complications for College Students

Alcohol and drug use have been closely linked to mental health conditions. Substance abuse and mental health disorders are intertwined, with one potentially leading to the other. Drugs and alcohol are often used to self-medicate and ease the symptoms caused by mental health conditions, many of which are experienced by college students learning to cope with life on their own for the first time.

Diagnosed or undiagnosed mental illness can also be worsened or triggered by substance abuse. The combination of drugs and alcohol with antidepressants, anxiety medications, and mood stabilizers can make the symptoms even more difficult to manage. In holistic rehab, circumstances like these result in a dual diagnosis, where a person is treated for both their addiction and mental health condition.

Consequences of Alcohol Use Among College Students

Whether alcohol abuse is occurring in dorm rooms, apartments, or at off-campus parties, the dangers are the same and can include:

  • Physical injuries
  • Car crashes
  • Physical assault
  • Sexual assault
  • Poor academic performance
  • Lost friendships
  • Social isolation
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Death

Alcohol abuse can take different forms in college, and binge drinking is one of them. Binge drinking is defined as excessive alcohol consumption over a short period time with the intention to get drunk.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism found that heavy drinking is most common within the first six weeks of freshman year. Fraternities and sororities are strongly associated with binge drinking. Thousands of college students experience a newly permissive environment and consistently drink too much, which can lead to alcohol use disorder, as well as alcohol overdose.

Get Substance Abuse Help for Your College Student

Transitioning into adulthood is a passage everyone needs to make, and many people experience this change in college. College students often don’t make the right choices for themselves because they’re trying hard to fit in or succumb to peer pressure.

College students may be tempted to overindulge in drinking or try various drugs, but this attempt to fit in or chill out can tank their grades, contribute to risky or dangerous behavior, ruin friendships, and damage overall health. The substances some students take, merely to fit in, can ultimately cost them their lives.

Holistic rehab treatment centers like Beachside Rehab offer substance abuse support to college students, including dual diagnosis treatment. Contact our trained admissions counselors at 866-349-1770 to discuss the needs of the college student in your life so they can get the targeted, long-lasting recovery support they need.