Substance abuse and college students

consequences of drug use on students

Drinking and college students

Drinking and using drugs can have deleterious effects on college students. Sometimes we flippantly dismiss college “partying” with a wink and a nod as some sort of rite of passage for young people, but in many cases the “partying” is interfering with memory, motivation, judgment and performance. Substance abuse affects young college students in different ways than adults, especially if young people are not prepared for the freedom of college life coupled with the impairment of judgment. In some cases. about 10% of the cases, the young person drinking or doing some other drug is in the early stages of addiction. In the majority of cases, the drug use is at least putting the student at risk, so it pays for students to fully understand the risks involved in drinking and using other drugs. Most students use several drugs, including alcohol — let’s not forget that alcohol is a drug, just a legal drug except of underage drinking.

There can also be even more serious consequences:

Overdosing on drugs or alcohol can literally kill you. On average, 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 to 24 die each year due to alcohol-related injuries, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Alcohol and drugs don’t have to kill you to have a serious impact on your physical and psychological health; they also damage your organs, cause brain dysfunction and alter your perceptions, emotions and senses causing you to take dangerous or unnecessary risks and even lead to mental health disorders like depression. People who start using drugs or drinking during their college years are more likely to develop a substance abuse problem later in life, say authors J.L. Matheson and R.T. McGrath, Jr. in a fact sheet for the Colorado State University Extension.

Of course, death from substance abuse is not common, but students have to know it’s a possibility. There can also be serious consequences done to others if a drunk student sexually assaults another student in a moment of severely impaired judgment and reduced inhibitions. This can ruin lives, and it appears to be a serious problem on college campuses that might have gone unreported in the past.

Other consequences might go undetected, or might be blamed on other factors, such as memory loss and lack of ability to pay attention. If parents don’t know how much alcohol or other drugs the student is using, they might think it’s some kind of attention deficit disorder — the student might not open up about the drinking and drug use, and, thus, go along with alternate explanations for the dropping grades. This is why awareness of the effects of alcohol and other drugs on the brain and behavior of college students is important. This is from The University of Portland site:

o A average students consumed about 3.3 drinks per week

o  B average students consumed about 4.8 drinks per week

o  C average students consumed about 6.1 drinks per week

o  D or F average students consumed about 9.0 average drinks per week

We don’t need to exaggerate the consequences of alcohol and drug use, and no parents need to panic when they learn their kids have a few drinks at parties, but there must be awareness that the more the student drinks and uses other drugs the higher is the risk for failure in college and serious consequences that can alter their lives in ways that are difficult to overcome. Substance abuse and it’s affects on college students is an important subject that requires candor and perspective.

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