Alcohol and Prescription Drug Abuse in College Students

When students go off to college, they are just bursting to get free of their parents’ rules and make decisions on their own as they are becoming adults. Many college students are naive and careless when it comes to making decisions on how they deal with situations brought on during adulthood. Specifically this naivety often leads college students to begin alcohol and prescription drug abuse. Drug and alcohol abuse goes hand in hand within the college atmosphere as movies have been displaying this behavior for decades without prejudice or discretion. As entertaining as the movies make it, there can be some severe consequences involved when abusing alcohol and prescription drugs that the movies most often do not portray.

College Campuses Battle Alcohol & Prescription Drug Abuse in Students

No matter how hard college campus administrators try, implementing ‘dry campus’ rules and regulations spark the rebellious nature inside all students to sneak a bottle of the good stuff into their dorm. A study was conducted in 2009 regarding alcohol abuse by the National Institute of Health, 4 out of 5 students reported occasional alcohol consumption while completing a degree at a college campus and 40% of those who drink reported binge drinking within two weeks of the study. The same study determined that about 25% of college students report academic consequences of their binge drinking like falling behind in class work, missing classes because of their hangovers, and receiving low exam scores. These are all learning curves of their decisions and one could only hope their lesson was learned. It is a social norm that college students need to spread their wings, unwind, and ‘live a little’ however, the real danger lies within the decisions they make when under the influence of alcohol or prescription drugs. Missing class is nothing compared to date rape and assault.



13% of college students report having unprotected sex while under the influence of excessive drinking, 97,000 college students annually, are victims of alcohol-related date rape or sexual abuse, and 599,000 college students experience alcohol-related injuries each year. Alcohol abuse that leads to these types of consequences are far worse than an unbearable hangout after girls night. College students learning their limits with alcohol is common, but many that test these limits can potentially suffer consequences of rape, injuries, and sexually transmitted diseases.

Prescription Drug Abuse Rampant In College Students

Students in college experience an extreme amount of pressures while obtaining their degree(s). Keeping test scores high, compounded with the anxiety to make new friends, participating in events, feeling home-sick being away from home. It is only natural to seek out ways to relax from these demands now that they are away from home. Unfortunately, college students are commonly turning to prescription drug abuse to help relieve stress brought on by their new lives.

Two of the most common types of prescription drugs being abused are OxyContin and Adderall. OxyContin is used for pain or to relax in a somewhat euphoric state. Adderall  is an amphetamine-based drug prescribed by doctors used to treat those who struggle with ADHD. College students abuse Adderall and other amphtetamine-based prescriptions in order to experience a heightened focus for long periods of time which support cramming for tests and such.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has been conducting studies on substance abuse for years with all age groups and numerous drugs from prescription to illegal. In the years of 2012 and 2013, individuals between the ages of 18 – 25, common ages of college students, reported taking OxyContin and Adderall/Ritalin without a prescription to distress or enhance performance.



The graphs above reflect the poor decision making those individuals are making to keep up or cope with the new found problems that come with adulthood. Again, there are more serious dangers to these decisions as OxyContin has been considered the gateway to heroin addiction by the recovering addiction community. OxyContin is an opiate derived painkiller that relaxes the body and mind. Known as the beginning of many addictions that have spiraled out of control, testimonials tell no lies.

“I stole so much money from my parents,” says Katie, 18, who is also a recovering OxyContin addict. She says she and a friend both stole their parents’ ATM cards to support their habits. “I stole $5,000 from my parents in two months.”

Adderall and Ritalin prescription drugs are very popular around college campuses and easy to obtain. Students do not always understand the consequences of their decisions as Adderall and Ritalin are methylphenidate or a speeder that develops addictions similar to Crystal Meth.

Educating College Students on Prescription Drug Abuse & Addiction

Prescription drugs are one of the most commonly abused drugs in the United States. For college students, prescription drugs can offer relaxation or maybe a helpful, albeit temporary aid in increasing test scores. Unfortunately the ultimate results tend to lead straight to a prescription drug addiction that spirals out of control, ruining their life. College should be a time for self-discovery, designating a career path, and establishing life-long friendships.

Today however, drugs are being made stronger, more potent, able to treat any ailment out there. It is important for college students to get educated on what they are putting into their bodies and what consequences they will face when deciding to abuse prescription drugs, alcohol or illegal drugs.

Your experiences matter, please share your experience with alcohol, prescription drug or illegal drug abuse while a student in college. Use the comments section below. Your suffrage can be someone else’s salvation!

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