College has a reputation as a place where experimenting with alcohol and illicit substances is common. Many associate college with parties and social gatherings, where alcohol and drug abuse are the norm rather than the exception. The high-stress and demanding environment of college can also push students towards drinking or abusing stimulants or similar drugs to deal with pressure or keep up with coursework. Whatever the reason, college drug abuse and addiction on college campuses is common and universities are beginning to offer more resources to fight it.
Commonly Abused Substances on College Campuses
College students consume more alcohol than their non-college peers, with past studies having found that as many as 40% engage in binge drinking. These studies note that one of the greatest barriers to addressing this problem is that alcohol abuse is “normal” for college students or somehow acceptable, along with many students being afraid to seek help due to the stigmatization of alcoholism and addiction.
In recent years, rates of prescription drug abuse and opioid abuse on college campuses have sharply increased. The same is true of amphetamines which are commonly misused by students in an attempt to keep up with coursework or other college-related stresses. 4 Many students combine these substances, with U.S. college students who abuse prescription opioids being four times as likely to also report frequent binge drinking.
The Establishment of Collegiate Recovery Programs
With the nation’s growing opioid epidemic spreading to college campuses, colleges and universities have had to adapt to the needs of students who may be struggling with a dependence or addiction to these dangerous substances. The Hechinger Report writes that almost 200 collegiate drug addiction recovery programs have been started across the nation within the past 5 years, many of which offer 12-step programming, social gatherings, and sobriety-based activities for students.
The writers note that this figure still amounts to less than 5% of the nation’s colleges and universities – a statistic which may be explained by lack of funding, awareness, or the hesitance of college leaders to acknowledge that a substance abuse problem exists on campus. Students who benefit from these programs praise their offering of a safe haven, free from pressures and triggers to abuse substances elsewhere on campus. They also note the presence of a like-minded community, and the sense of accountability and self-respect such environments foster.
Initiatives to Combat College Substance Abuse
Along with collegiate recovery programs, other initiatives are underway at colleges to combat student substance abuse. These can range from media campaigns, school policies that limit alcohol advertising and promote alcohol-free gatherings, to prevention programs that include consequences and education for students who violate campus alcohol or drug policies.
Some colleges are also implementing the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment program, which helps identify the severity of a student’s substance abuse issues and directs them to proper care. These programs and initiatives, along with collegiate recovery programs, aim to fight stigmas around addiction and substance abuse, change campus cultures for the better, and offer the necessary resources and help to those struggling with substance abuse to recover their academic careers and, in many cases, their lives.
Substance Abuse Recovery in New Hampshire
College is a vulnerable time for many students. Peer pressure, the stress of coursework, and being thrust into an unknown environment can all make substance abuse an easy reprieve from difficult feelings. Such behavior can have numerous life-destroying consequences, as anyone struggling with drug addiction can attest.
If you or a loved one are fighting substance abuse or addiction while in college, the time to seek treatment is now. With multiple drug rehab facilities offering various levels of care throughout the state, Granite Recovery Centers in New Hampshire features a unique blend of a 12-step based curriculum with proven clinical modalities that are designed to produce lasting recovery.