Preventing Substance Abuse in College

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What is Substance Abuse?

Substance abuse occurs when someone uses a drug outside of its intention. This can include taking Adderall without a prescription, using an extra dose of Xanax than prescribed, or smoking marijuana in a state where it is illegal. Drinking is considered abuse if you are under the age of 21 or using it in a way that negatively impacts your health.

Substance abuse in college is a huge problem. Not only does it affect students, but it affects campuses and the community. Drug abuse harbors many consequences, both long and short term.

The Importance of Preventing Substance Abuse in College

Drug misuse can have consequences that affect your entire life. If you suffer from a drug arrest or violation, your career may suffer.


You might become ineligible for employment in the career path that you want to achieve if you have been arrested. Many different careers have licensing standards where drug misuse would be a disqualification. Although alcohol is a legal substance, it is not for those under 21.

Many employers screen applicants as well as current employees for drug use. They might even look through your social media accounts for indicators of substance use.


Although drugs and alcohol can impact your career goals, they also affect campus safety. Law enforcement officers have spoken about the negative effects on the entire community from drugs. Substance abuse in college facilitates traffic crashes, violence, property crimes, medical assistance needs, as well as sexual assault. Substance abuse in college can have a detrimental effect on the entire community.

How Do Schools Look to Prevent Substance Abuse in College?

Most higher education institutions have a system to help avoid the challenge that comes with substance abuse in college.

Drug Abuse Prevention Programs

These programs on college campuses are often multidisciplinary and involve the entire campus. Not only will you be involved as a student, but the whole community will be involved.

Law Enforcement and Campus Safety Involvement

Students often enjoy experimentation, but experimentation leads to abuse, the need for rehab and ultimately addiction in college. Using law enforcement members for campus safety involvement can help prevent substance abuse’s adverse effects in college.

Providing the Opportunity to Make Responsible Choices

Having students work together in a sort of coalition creates a culture of responsible choices, allowing you to prevent drug abuse.

Why Does Substance Abuse Happen in College?

Most of the time, you do not become involved with substances simply because you want to. Often there are many influences on why you choose to do this. This is due to rules, community norms, mass media messages, accessibility of alcohol and drugs like never before, or peer pressure. Understanding why students fall into substance use allows the institutions to make changes that will positively affect and influence them.

Methods of Preventing Substance Abuse in College

Having a community that works together, gathers data, understands drug trends, and changes policies to accommodate change is the only way to succeed.

Trends of Substance Abuse in College

Due to the legality of alcohol, abuse of alcohol has always held a presence in colleges. Other substances have differed throughout the years. The reason behind this is that researchers believe that drug abuse is cyclical.

Cyclical drug abuse means that when you focus on using one drug specifically, all the prevention efforts also fall to that drug. This means the attempt to reduce the use of other drugs declines, including a lack of education regarding the abuse of those drugs.

How Can I Tell if Someone is Abusing Drugs?

The best way to prevent substance abuse is to speak about it. College students are often going through tough times with academic and social pressures, leading to abuse. In many cases, struggling students might benefit from a friend to listen, rather than turning to substances.

If you know someone struggling with substance abuse, whether that is a friend, family member, a classmate, or a dorm mate, you might make a difference in their life by listening to them.

Common warning signs that someone might be using substances in college include:

  • isolating from friends
  • withdrawing from activities that they once loved
  • sudden uses of substances
  • increased alcohol consumption
  • substance abuse while alone

Signs and Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of substance abuse are different depending on the substance. Many psychological patterns emerge in people who use them often. These personality changes might be due to other life stressors, but it is usually because a college student is abusing drugs or alcohol.

Signs and symptoms may include:

  • decreased interest in classes
  • reduced interest in sports or extracurricular activities
  • change in grades or academic performance when they were once strong in these areas
  • fluctuations in weight
  • changes in sleeping patterns
  • time spent with new people
  • withdrawing from friends or acting secretive
  • unexplained changes in behavior or personality
  • mood swings, depression, or irritability

Who is at a Higher Risk for Substance Abuse in College?

Social pressures, expectations, and availability of certain drugs, and other demographics affect who is at risk for substance abuse in college. High-risk groups might include:

  • fraternity and sorority members
  • campus athletes
  • students with mental health concerns such as a dual diagnosis
  • residents of on-campus housing and dorms
  • students facing extreme amounts of stress


There are many types of rehab programs. The two commonly known programs are inpatient and outpatient treatment. During inpatient treatment, you will live at a rehab facility to go through a detox and learn how to stop using substances. The trouble with this type of program is that it takes you away from your schooling.

For college students, the best bet might be to either go to inpatient rehabilitation during the summer or to attempt to go to outpatient rehab instead. This form of treatment occurs three to four times per week for two to four hours per session. Although it might slow down your studies, it will not force you to quit altogether.

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

Do you know a college student suffering from addiction? At Resurgence Behavioral Health, we understand how difficult it can be to give up an addiction. Our dedicated team will help you customize a treatment plan to help you heal from your addiction.

Our goal is for you to leave Resurgence Behavioral Health with mental fortitude and coping skills to maintain lifelong sobriety. Call Resurgence Behavioral Health at 855-458-0050 to schedule an appointment. We challenge you to make a fresh start with us today.

Addiction Treatment that
Just Works

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