Drug Addiction Among Students

Drug Addiction Among Students

Across the United States, college students make up one of the largest demographics or groups of drug abusers to date. Millennial and Generation Z youths aged 18 to 24 years of age have heightened addiction risk. In fact, those who are enrolled in college full-time are two times more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol compared to youths who don’t attend college. This is disconcerting because it’s usually believed to be the other way around (that out-of-school youths who should actually be the addicts who steal from people to feed their habits instead of students).

Why Students Turn to Drugs

There are a number of reasons why college students in particular are susceptible to high rates of drug usage and abuse. To summarize, it’s because they use drugs to socialize better, deal with pressure, and simply because they’re curious and they have more freedom as young, legal adults. The specific reasons are as follows:

  • Peer Pressure: College students are often surrounded by other people who use drugs, so drug usage becomes normalized in their eyes. Many students tend to experiment with performance-enhancing and recreational drugs. Because of this, their peers who don’t use drugs might be influenced by the wave of peer pressure and try to fit in with their new friends. After all, no one wants to be the pariah.
  • Curiosity: College students have graduated from the awkward teenage years of high school and have ended up on the cusp of adulthood will tend to rush and do what they view as adult behavior. They’re into experimenting and exploring many aspects of their personal and burgeoning professional lives. This self-exploration can naturally include drug usage or at least trying something like marijuana out.
  • Course Load: Stimulants, whether it’s from a can of ice coffee or Monster Energy Drink, are a type of drug. As students face the challenges of coursework, they will take legal stimulants like coffee or prescription drugs like Adderall that they stole from their parents’ medicine cabinet in order to cope and stay awake long enough to complete assignments before their deadlines or study for the big test.
  • Stress: The life of a college student is a stressful one, filled with the uncertainties of paying back their student loan debt, social obligations, internships, part-time jobs, fulfilling unit quotas, and doing the actual work to graduate from their course, among other stressors. The very nature of being a student can push one to use drugs.Recreational drugs like cannabis and prescription drugs like opioids and stimulants might be their main method of coping with everything they have to deal with when going to college, from future debt to intense studying sessions. Most prescription drugs they get are usually obtained without a legitimate prescription at that. Using drugs can serve as a shortcut to help one deal with the pressures of student life.

Drugs of Choice in College Campuses

Gang Of Young People Taking Drugs

Over time, trends change and drug usage is no exception to this reality and has no immunity to college drug experimentation. With that said, there are a couple of drugs consistently used and abused among college students. They include the following:

  • Alcohol: From beer pong to binge drinking, college and beer go together like a horse and carriage or fries and drinks to a hamburger. As far as university and college campuses are concerned, alcohol makes up a vast majority of substance abuse issues among students. Drinking isn’t only socially acceptable; it’s encouraged. Therefore, it can be difficult to gauge when college students are suffering from alcoholism.
  • Marijuana: Ever since Election 2016, the legislation of the Schedule I drug known as marijuana has been tipping more and more towards legalization, with more states allowing its use medicinally or even recreationally. Pot has therefore become the gateway drug of choice among students who are increasingly viewing its usage as normal as drinking coffee or socially drinking alcohol. On some campuses, marijuana is used even more than alcohol at that.
  • Adderall: Adderall, also known as the “study drug”, is a stimulant that has had increasing popularity among college students as of late because it helps them deal with the pressure of meeting their academic needs by keeping them awake longer and allowing them to study more or finish their deadlines even when faced with a time crunch. Adderall and other prescription stimulants are naturally likelier to get abused than something like coffee.
  • Other Prescription Drugs: Although Adderall is the most famous of the drugs of choice among college students, there are other stimulants they use and abuse such as Ritalin; narcotics to help them sleep and relax better instead; opioids that are stronger than OTC painkillers such as OxyContin, morphine, Vicodin, and tramadol; and central nervous system depressants to assist them with being too tweaked or stimulated. Some of these drugs are used recreationally while others are instead used recreationally or beyond their recommended dosage to get some sort of high out of them.
  • Over-The-Counter Drugs: You have your OTCs like cough medicine, cold medicine, headache medicine, and painkillers. They can be nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen or paracetamol as well as anti-allergy drugs such as antihistamine. PEDs for sports are usually asthma medication that allows you to increase your breathing capacity. Bodybuilders in college might also use and abuse steroids.
  • Ecstasy and Molly: Back in the 1990s, Ecstasy was popularized as a party drug of sorts that has aphrodisiac properties a la the Spanish Fly or eating oysters. Ecstasy has made a resurgence of sorts in the form of molly or MDMA, which is its purest form. College students who want to party and have some casual “hookups” will take this drug since they’re the target age range for this drug Many 20-somethings and teenagers abuse this drug regularly, with it usually found in concerts and raves.
  • Cocaine: Cocaine is the ultimate illicit drug stimulant in powder form. It’s usually and popularly taken on a plate of glass with the powder formed into lines through a razor blade. You’re then supposed to snort the coke in order to get the stimulating high from it. You can also ingest it by rubbing it directly into your gums for good measure. Infamously, Coca-Cola used to contain cocaine in it and back in the day, coke was used as a treatment for child toothache.
  • Heroin: Heroin, also known as diamorphine, is an illicit opioid drug known for its euphoric effects and its addictiveness. Like opium, morphine, and tramadol, it also has painkilling properties as well. In fact, like marijuana, it’s used in several countries for pain relief or as opioid replacement therapy. It’s usually paired with cocaine as a popular party drug among college students, but Ecstasy is far more widespread compared to the two. This is because it’s usually reserved among the elite in light of how expensive it is.

Alcohol on College Campuses

Group Of Teenage Friends Dancing And Drinking Alcohol

Although in some campuses marijuana is Queen Mary Jane, the most abused substance on college campuses as a whole is alcohol, particularly beer. According to a report by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 4 out of 5 college students drink alcohol. Although drinking might not be a big deal for some, it’s important to remember that ¾ of this population is under the legal drinking age, so a lot of minors are engaging in what’s essentially illegal drinking.

Many college students drink because of the following reasons:

  • To relax
  • As a stress reliever
  • To lower inhibitions
  • To party or have fun
  • In an attempt to fit in
  • As a response to peer pressure
  • To reduce anxiety or depression

College students are usually from 18 to 22 years of age. 21 is the legal drinking age in the U.S.A. Even more crucial is the fact that half of the drinkers engage in the dangerous act of binge drinking, which is alcohol abuse involving 3-4 drinks in a sitting with the intention of getting drunk every time. This raises their risk of alcohol poisoning and even alcohol addiction or alcoholism if they continue their behavior. The main issue with alcohol is that it’s almost romanticized to a disturbing degree in film, television, and music, almost as much as tobacco used to be in the Golden Age of Hollywood.

Alcohol usage has always been seen as “hip” and “cool” among the youths for many generations. What’s more, alcohol is easy to access in college campuses unlike something like heroin, cocaine, and meth. Alcohol is the substance of choice among college students, with upperclassmen over the age of 21 buying alcohol legally at that. They’re usually the ones who distribute the booze to their younger freshmen and sophomore students or underclassmen. What’s more, beer and wine are more often than not inexpensive unless you’re buying fancy wine that’s been aged for a long time such as brandy, cognac, vodka, and sherry.

Getting High Instead of Getting a Higher Education

Close up Dried Cannabis or Marijuana Leaves Used for Psychoactive Drug or Medicine on Top of the Table

Marijuana, also known as pot, weed, Mary Jane, reefer, or cannabis, is the second most common substance that’s being abused on college campuses. According a Harvard School of Public Health survey, 47 percent of students have tried marijuana at least once. Meanwhile, 30 percent of students admit to using it in the past year when the survey was conducted. Just like alcohol, marijuana is popular in television, movies, music, and pop culture, with many celebrity proponents for it like Joe Rogan and Seth Rogan (not related).

  • Controversy Over Usage: There’s much controversy when it comes to marijuana usage because of its legalization in certain states for its use in medicinal purposes. Some states have even gone as far as legalizing it for recreational consumption, as in the case of tobacco and alcohol. The drug that used to be demonized as the gateway drug of the worst kind by PSAs and movies like “Reefer Madness” is fast becoming normalized in modern times, which leads people to believe that marijuana is neither addictive nor harmful.
  • Still a Gateway Drug: However, there’s a reason why federally speaking or across the U.S., it’s still considered a Schedule I drug. This means it’s on the same level as cocaine, meth, and heroine. It’s also considered a gateway drug because it’s considered the first step to taking in harder drugs. Also, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, 9 percent of marijuana users end up becoming addicted to the drug. It’s a drug that’s increasingly becoming easy to come by and relatively cheap to buy.
  • Usage for Medicinal Purposes: Getting a medical marijuana card for the sake of pain management or anti-anxiety treatment may not be difficult as well. Students with such a card are liable to share their stash of weed among others who don’t have it, allowing for group consumption of the drug a la getting a beer after a hard day’s work or coursework. Marijuana is typically smoked as a joint or through a bong. There are others who consume marijuana in the form of edibles like brownies and candies as well as cannabis tea. Some even use CBD or THC oil on vaporizers or electronic cigarettes.
  • Why Marijuana Is Used: Marijuana is known for creating a “high” or euphoric feeling in the consumer care of its THC component. This is then abused for some of the same reasons that alcohol is abused. Namely, students consume reefer to better fit in with friends and acquaintances who are also users as well as for the sake of experimentation now that they’re in the cusp of adulthood. They can also use it to ease anxiety, calm nerves, or just to feel good. The CBD in marijuana, meanwhile, induces the “stoning” or “couch lock” effect, making it effective as a painkiller of sorts.

Marijuana does include a number of side effects which includes the following:

  • Lack of motivation
  • Respiratory issues
  • Increased heart rate
  • Loss of coordination
  • Slowed reaction times
  • Poor memory functions
  • Lowered immune system
  • Traffic accidents while impaired
  • Higher chance of risky behavior

Many marijuana users are also users of other illicit drugs and tend to be binge drinkers as well, hence it getting the gateway drug reputation. To be more specific, about 98 percent of drug users have abused more than one substance at a time according to a survey by the Harvard School of Public Health, and student drug users are no exception to this statistic.

Students, Stimulants and Other Illicit Drugs

Even though it’s not as prevalent or popular as marijuana or alcohol, club or party drugs like cocaine, heroin, LSD, and Ecstasy have a place in many a college campus in the United States. According to CASA reports, illegal drug usage has increased 52 percent from 1993 to 2005. Meanwhile, Ecstasy is one of the more popular party drugs used in raves and the like. It’s a hallucinogenic stimulant derivative of meth.

  • Commonplace Usage: According to the “A Monitoring of the Future” study, there are 12.7 percent of college students that had used Ecstasy at least once in their lifetime. It’s through drugs like that that they can enhance their sensations and alter their mood, with them acting as uppers or stimulants as well as hallucinogens that allow them to have quite the drug trip.
  • Risk Factors from These Drugs: There are many risk factors and side effects both short-term and long-term associated with illicit drug usage. Ecstasy is known to increase pleasure, which leads to reckless and risky sexual behavior. Heroin and cocaine are highly addictive and both can increase pressure in your blood and heart, which puts users into high risk for fatal overdose when push comes to shove. Such drugs can also change their brain chemistry for the worse and cause severe withdrawal symptoms.
  • Poly-Drug Use: While marijuana is indeed labeled as the gateway drug, the tendency for marijuana users using other drugs isn’t necessarily anchored on marijuana usage alone. Rather, using more than one drug at a time or poly-drug use is a common phenomenon in students attending college, especially those who are heavily involved in the club or party scene that’s known as a source for these illicit substances.

Rise of “Study Drugs” and Prescription Drug Abuse

Many colleges are faced with the growing epidemic of prescription medication abuse. Compared to illicit drugs, prescription drugs are much easier to obtain and you don’t necessarily need to be part of the party scene to get them. You can get them through a valid prescription or through another student’s prescription. You can simply get them through the medicine cabinet of your parents or relatives as well.

  • Free Distribution: According to a Journal of Addictive Diseases study, 62 percent or more than half of a sample group of students with a valid prescription for ADHD medicine such as Adderall and Ritalin were distributing it to their classmates and other students who don’t have prescription, either by sharing them for free or asking money for them. It’s the same deal when it comes to upperclassmen buying booze for themselves and their underclassmen.
  • Don’t Use Prescription Drugs Beyond Its Intended Purpose: It can be dangerous and considered outright abuse to use a medication beyond its intended purpose, perhaps for the sake of recreation or stress relief. According to reports by the CDC, a hundred Americans die every day from drug overdoses, with a vast majority of such cases being related to overdosing on prescription drugs that aren’t used as prescribed.
  • Top Three College Substances of 2016: The top three substances used by college students in 2016 are alcohol, marijuana, and Adderall. Adderall is particularly disconcerting because the main purpose for its abuse is paved with good intentions. It’s used as a stimulant to allow college students to perform under constant pressure and perform excellently in academics. Such drugs keep them awake and aware for longer periods of time by giving them a stimulating brain boost that’s many leagues higher than coffee and have additional benefits like improved work efficiency and focus.

In Conclusion

Depressed Teenage Boy Lying In Bedroom With Pills

The college campus can itself produce the most addicted of addicts. This is because drug usage is one of the ways students deal with the natural social anxiety produced by such an environment. There’s also strong social or peer pressure for college-aged kids to drink, especially in light of the fact that socializing among college-aged students is centered on alcohol consumption. Sure, not all college students immediately start doing drugs and binge drinking, but routine drinking to have more fun can lead towards the slippery slope of addiction.

Lanna Rehab will Help You Deal with Drug Addiction among Students

There’s nothing as disconcerting as seeing the youth fall into hard times by becoming addicted to hard drugs or gateway drugs like marijuana as well as turning into an alcoholic even though he’s a minor who’s not supposed to drink. Luckily, there exists youth rehab programs in centers like Lanna Rehab in Thailand that can set your kids right without them feeling like they’re being sent to a correctional facility or juvenile detention. Call Lanna Rehab 24/7 through their hotline for more information and price quotations.


Martin Peters

Martin Peters has a BA (Hons) Dip HE Dip RN CSAT III and is the Group Program Director Lanna Healthcare. He is a Registered Nurse and Certified Substance Abuse Therapist working in the mental health field since 1994; Martin has had a wide range of experience in management and supervisory roles within established healthcare systems, and has provided consultancy services to a number of private and public sector organizations in the UK and Asia in terms of management, policy writing, accreditation and recruitment. Martin’s addictions experience has been in developing inpatient services in Thailand since 2009, both clinical and operational. He has been instrumental in expanding and developing a non 12 step inpatient treatment centre and opening a further inpatient centre with a 12 step approach, implementing KIPU Electronic Records, strengthening hospital partnerships, introducing a Scholarship for students under the Masters in Addiction Studies Program at The ASEAN Institute for Health Development and working with an international accreditation body. Martin has also been a speaker at several international conferences on addiction, including ASEAN conferences and has also guest lectured at Mahidol University (Thailand), University of Sarghoda (Pakistan) Institute of Medical Sciences (Pakistan) and has been a representative on the CARF Standards Advisory Committee for 2016.In 2015. Martin became a Co-Founder of Lanna Healthcare, launching Lanna Rehab in March 2016 and opening Jintra in January 2018. In June of 2018, Martin was involved in the merger of Lanna and DARA, becoming Thailand's biggest private licensed operator. Martin is currently a Joint and Asia Health Co Ltd Owner Operator of Lanna Healthcare Co Ltd, which under its umbrella manages Lanna Rehab in Chiang Mai, Jintra Rehab in Chiang Mai and DARA Rehab in Koh Chang - all Thailand MoPH Licensed Addiction Facilities providing world-class treatment in Thailand.