Back to School: The Prevalence of Drug Use in College

college drug use

It’s that time of year again. Your son or daughter is preparing to go to school in less than a month’s time. You’ve packed the textbooks, the dorm essentials, and you are now readying your teen – and yourself – for the independence and responsibilities that are yet to come.

As a parent, you may be nervous about sending your child off to college. Will he make friends with the right crowd? Will she keep her priorities straight? What if your child gets involved with binge drinking or drug use in college?

Right now, the most important thing you can do is educate yourself, and your teen, on the toxic tangle of substance use and academics, and learn the dangers that drugs can pose. Because the truth is, most teens and young adults are already drinking and using drugs by the time they graduate high school. And chances are, your child will encounter others who are partaking in the college party scene.

Nationwide, college students have been adding illicit drugs such as marijuana and cocaine to their list of back-to-school supplies. While overall teen drug use has actually declined in recent years, studies show that drug use among full-time college students is progressively reaching new highs.

Illicit drug use among college students has been on the rise for a decade now. Back in 2006, 34 percent of American college students reported that they had used an illicit drug during the prior year. In 2013, that number rose to 39 percent. Last year, about 41 percent of college students reported having used some illicit drug over the last 12-month period.

The drug problem among young adults appears to lie largely in their marijuana use. According to the newest data released by the National Institute of Drug Abuse, daily marijuana use among college-aged youth is now at an all-time high, surpassing both daily cigarette smoking and daily alcohol use.

4.3 percent of college students drink on a daily basis. Yet almost 6 percent of full-time college students smoke marijuana daily. While this number continues upward, the perceived risk of regular marijuana use among young adults simultaneously declines. Amidst marijuana’s rising prevalence and recent legalization debates, many adolescents and young adults fail to see the negative effects of marijuana – such as slowed brain development and memory troubles – on growing youth.

Marijuana is not the only drug epidemic among college students today. Non-medical use of the stimulant Adderall, also known as a “study drug,” is also of concern for this demographic. According to recent research, Adderall abuse is now more prominent among full-time college students than it is among their non-college peers. Nearly 10 percent of overworked, overwhelmed, or overscheduled college students are using this drug to stay up late studying, to enhance productivity, and to breeze through their task lists efficiently. The problem, however, is that Adderall is highly addictive.

Another stimulant that raises cause for concern is cocaine. Cocaine, like the prescription drug Adderall, is a highly-addictive substance used by youth to stay awake, enhance performance, and suppress appetite. Cocaine is currently used by 4.4 percent of college students, compared to 2.7 percent in 2013.

Drug use in college is often more than what we’d call experimentation, more than what we’d claim as rebellion. It is a consistent epidemic in America, as substance addiction has already affected over 22 million people over the age of 12 who now need professional addiction treatment.

As parents, educators, advisors, it is time that we get to know the truth about drug use in college. It is time that we arm ourselves with the skills needed to prevent drug use from getting in the way of a good education. It is time we protect our children and students from the dangerous addiction cycle.

Many colleges throughout the nation have already started. Recovery programs and sober residencies are quickly emerging in universities throughout the United States. There are now over twenty fully sober colleges in the country, and many more collegiate recovery programs dedicated to helping students stay sober. And this year, for the first-time ever, the NIDA has posted a comprehensive list of 400 undergraduate and graduate addiction studies programs for those interested in pursuing a career in addiction science.

By understanding the facts about drug use in college and knowing where to seek help, you can address a problem in your child should it ever occur.  At Turnbridge, we uphold education as a priority throughout the course of our young adult drug rehab programs. If you are at all concerned about your son or daughter’s drug or alcohol use, its academic risks, or want to learn more about our treatment facilities, please call us today at 877-581-1793.