Addiction in College

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Understanding Alcohol and Drug Use in College

Alcohol and drug use in college students is an increasing concern in the United States. And, regardless of the drug choice, studies indicate that students are at risk of developing addiction while in college. High-risk drinking is still prevalent on college campuses, as well. Research indicates that roughly 20% of college students meet the criteria for an Alcohol Use Disorder. 

While binge drinking involves consuming large amounts of alcohol at one time, though not necessarily every day, it places individuals in danger of alcohol poisoning, blacking out, high risk sexual activity, car accidents, and addiction. On an average day during the past year, 2,179 full-time college students drank alcohol for the first time, and 1,326 used an illicit drug for the first time.

But while alcohol and drug use in college is often assumed to be part of an experimental, party lifestyle, this is not always the case. Studies have shown that, under extreme pressure to achieve good grades, participate in extracurricular activities, maintain employment, and form relationships, some college students look to drugs as “performance enhancers.”

This is often fueled by misunderstandings that stimulant drugs like Adderall can improve academic performance, or allow students to focus all night on schoolwork. However, this is not the case, and while the drugs may be available legally, they are not “safe.” As a result of the easy availability of drugs on college campuses, as well as the social and academic pressures students face, addiction in college is a serious physical and mental health issue in the United States.

Societal stereotypes of addiction typically depict middle age individuals who lost their jobs, families, and health to substance use. And while substance use in college is common, addiction is rarely discussed as a consequence. However, even before addiction sets in, there are serious dangers to substance use in college.

The psychological consequences of alcohol and drug-related violence, and a culture that supports alcohol and drug use as a coping mechanism for stress, can easily lay the groundwork for life-long issues with substance use. Furthermore, given their desire to fit in, and a fear of losing scholarships or parental support, college students are likely to be afraid to discuss the early signs of addiction.

By hiding their struggles from peers, family, and school counselors, these students are more likely to slip into addiction in college, and carry that burden with them as they graduate into the world.

Mental Illness and Substance Abuse

Mental health is a growing concern among college students. In college, stress, anxiety, self-esteem issues, peer pressure to engage in sexual activity, the desire to be popular and attractive, financial pressures, and high academic expectations, are often mixed with lack of sleep, poor nutritional choices, and the potential for social isolation. This is a recipe for a mental health crisis and potential addiction in college.

And when mental health issues are combined with substance abuse, and the almost inescapable cycle of addiction can form. And as the negative mental health consequences of addiction begin to take hold, issues such as insomnia, anxiety, and depression, will likely worsen. This often drives individuals to use more drugs and alcohol to escape their mental health issues, damaging their physical and mental wellbeing, harming their academic performance, damaging relationships, and engaging in high-risk behavior in the process.


College students facing addiction should seek professional help immediately. There are no “safe” drugs and there are no safe circumstances in which to use them. Self-harm, violence, medical emergencies, and addiction can happen to college students, even if trusted friends and designated drivers offer support.

Instead, addiction in college students should be treated through professional treatment centers. One important reason for this professional assistance is that those who attempt to stop using drugs and alcohol “cold turkey” typically find that they cannot. The symptoms of withdrawal are powerful and can result in extreme physical and emotional pain, pulling the individual back into addiction.

Recovery programs, like those at Resurgence Behavioral Health, will offer college students struggling with addiction a variety of counseling and treatment options, including 12-Step programs, spiritual services,  peer support, and other options to build resilience and healthy coping skills.

Payment Information

Do you want treatment but are worried about how you can pay for it? We have a team of financial professionals who provide free insurance verification. We will work with you to determine how to move forward with the treatment in a way that works for you and your financial situation.

How to Get Help

Struggling with addiction in college is tough – but you are tougher. At Resurgence Behavioral Health, we understand the needs of college students struggling with addiction are unique.

Our experienced staff and caregivers know what you are facing and cheer you on through your recovery journey. Call 855-458-0050 to schedule your consultation.

You deserve to experience an addiction-free college experience, and we are waiting to hear from you.

Addiction Treatment that
Just Works

Individualized treatment programs delivered in a comfortable, relaxed setting promote healing in your recovery journey.