Which Drugs Are College Students Abusing?

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College girl

College brings new responsibility, experiences, and freedom to young adults. It is the first chance for many to really experience life away from home without restrictions. Some students use this opportunity to grow and learn who they are as an adult. Others abuse this freedom, and find college campuses are a place to party and experiment with illegal drugs.

While college is an exciting time, it also carries added stress. Full-time students are twice as likely to suffer drug abuse as young adults who don’t attend college. Stress, heavy course loads, and peer pressure are some of the reasons college students begin using drugs.

Drugs Most Commonly Abused on Campus

Any number of drugs may be used by students on college campuses. However, the abuse of certain drugs, and alcohol, is on the rise. Not all drugs used by students are illegal, but many are often misused, leading to a higher rate of substance addiction on campuses. Some of the most consistently used drugs by students include:


Alcohol is the most commonly abused substance across all college campuses. It is estimated that 4 out of 5 college students drink alcohol. Around half of those students binge drink (consume a large amount of alcohol in a short time). Binge drinking leads to a higher incidence of alcohol poisoning and blackouts.


As more states push for legalization of marijuana, it is growing in popularity on college campuses. Marijuana is often easy to obtain, and used for the same reasons as alcohol. Marijuana can be smoked, eaten in foods like edibles, and drunk in tea. Claims for marijuana use suggest it calms stress and anxiety, and while it is legal for recreational use in some states, there are reports of side-effects.

Some commonly reported side effects include:

  • Lowered immune system.
  • Increased risky behavior.
  • Car accidents while impaired.
  • Respiratory problems.
  • Lack of motivation.


Prescription drug abuse is a national epidemic. Many people, especially teens, consider prescription drugs to be less dangerous than illicit drugs. However, when medications are used other than as intended, they can become both addictive and dangerous. Prescription drugs are used among students for various reasons, but some of the most commonly used ones include:

  • Opioids (prescription pain medicines) – Prescription opioid abuse has reached epidemic levels all across the United States. It is one of the top three prescription drugs used among teens. Prescription pain medications are used to experience a euphoric feeling, and are often shared by those who have a prescription. Painkillers are responsible for 3 out of 4 overdose deaths due to prescriptions.
  • Stimulants (ADHD medications or study drugs) – College students are under intense pressure to succeed, and often don’t see any danger in abusing prescription ADHD (Attention Deficient Hyperactive Disorder) medications. These medicines can improve focus and efficiency, but these drugs are highly addictive, and misuse can lead to long-term brain damage.

Party Drugs

While some illegal drugs like cocaine have fewer users than in the past, there has been a recent increase in the use of methylenedioxy-methamphetamine (MDMA). MDMA is illegal, and some forms are known as ecstasy or molly. Either or both of these types of MDMA may be cut with other substances like heroin, cocaine, LSD or even rat poison. MDMA effects include euphoria, heightened sensations, and lowered inhibitions. The high from these drugs fades quickly, but the crash can last for days.

College campuses are often seen as a place for fun, and drinking may be encouraged by fraternities and sororities. Substance abuse results in hazardous situations like assault, driving accidents and overdose. Using these dangerous substances can lead to consequences including addiction, long-term health problems, and death.

If you or a loved one are concerned about the long term effects of drug abuse on college campuses, call Avalon today for a confidential assessment and more information about our programs. We offer substance use disorder treatment from the tranquil comfort of our private home. Trusted treatment with trusted results is the guarantee at Avalon. 1 877-516-9947.


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