Addiction and substance use disorders among college students have become a serious issue, one that has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years. In fact, today 49 percent of full-time college students drink and/or abuse illegal and prescription drugs. According to one study by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University, almost 23 percent of all college students meet the medical definition of drug addiction – that’s much higher than the 8.5 percent of the general public that is considered addicted to drugs.
But fortunately, there are ways to get help. This guide aims to provide students with a firm foundation to reach out for the help they need, including plenty of facts about what really constitutes a substance use disorder, how they can find the proper resources to get back on a healthy track and expert advice on what to do if addiction becomes a looming prospect.
Substance Use Disorders: What Are They?
Defining addiction or substance abuse isn’t black and white, and is no longer classified as a person’s “dependence” on a substance, because dependence can be considered a normal bodily response to use of any product. There are different levels of severity to consider, and these levels are classified as Substance Use Disorders. The American Psychiatric Association has identified a list of eleven criteria, and the number of criteria points that apply to a person determines the level of their Substance Abuse Disorder. Take a look at the chart below to learn about the different levels.
- MILD SUBSTANCE
USE DISORDERMeets 2 to 3 Criteria
- MODERATE SUBSTANCE
USE DISORDERMeets 4 to 5 Criteria
- SEVERE SUBSTANCE
USE DISORDERMeets 6 to 7 Criteria
Substance Use Disorders: Understanding the Levels
Because Substance Use Disorders are diagnosed as either mild, moderate or severe, it’s important to understand the specific criteria the American Psychiatric Association uses to determine these levels. This quiz can help determine if a student’s level of substance use is something to be concerned about.
QUIZ: IS IT A SUBSTANCE USE DISORDER?
Answer the following yes or no questions, based on the APA Substance Use Disorder criterion.
- Are you…
1Taking the substance in larger amounts and for longer than intended?
2Wanting to cut down or quit but not being able to do it?
3Spending a lot of time obtaining the substance?
4Having cravings or strong desires to use the substance?
5Repeatedly being unable to carry out major obligations at work, school or home due to substance use?
6Continuing to use despite persistent or recurring social or interpersonal problems, caused or made worse by substance use?
7Stopping or reducing important social, occupational or recreational activities due to substance use?
8Continually using the substance in physically hazardous situations?
9Consistently using the substance, despite knowing it causes persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problems?
10Building a tolerance — a need for markedly increased amounts of the substance to achieve desired effect, or a markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of the substance (this does not apply for patients using substances under appropriate medical supervision).
11Feeling withdrawl symptoms – as either a characteristic syndrome or when the substance is used to avoid withdrawl (this does not apply for patients using substances under appropriate medical supervision).
Source: American Psychiatric Association, 2013 and Clinical Tools, Inc. Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education
College Addiction by the Numbers
22.9%of college students meet the medical definition of drug addiction compared to 8.5 percent of the general public.(source: CASA Columbia)
49%of full-time college students drink and/or abuse drugs (illegal and prescription).(source: CASA Columbia)
Excluding tobacco and children under 13, more than20 millionAmericans are addicted to something.(source: Addiction Center)
95%of college campus violence is connected to alcohol.(source: NCAAD)
From the Experts
Many college students who abuse drugs or alcohol believe they can “handle it” — until they can’t. What are some warning signs of addiction that become evident very early on?
Dr. Aikins: In a word: consequences. If a student is drinking heavily four days a week and claims no adverse effects, they probably haven’t gotten into too many fistfights or been hospitalized (those WOULD be adverse effects) but I might question if they’ve had verbal altercations with friends or strained romantic relationships as a product of their drinking or using. Are they “truly” getting as much exercise and sleep as they think they need? Are they forgetting things and doing things they later regret? Do they find themselves spending too much money partying?
Overall, I’d tell students to ask themselves if they’re experiencing any consequences. Then pause, consider their frequency of use, relationships, and various other costs, choices and health variables, and ask themselves again, “… really?”
Dr. Doyle: One of the early warning signs is an abnormally high tolerance, in other words the ability to drink (or consume) significantly more than others, and still be able to function. Sometimes this manifests itself as the ability to “drink others under the table.” Another is the inability consistently predict the time, place, amount, and/or duration of the drinking/using episode, sometimes referred to as loss of control.
A third warning sign would be continuing to drink or use in spite of negative consequences, such as legal issues, disciplinary issues, relationship problems, or even medical/health issues. Finally, it is important to be aware of one’s own risk factors, such as a (genetic) family history of addiction, which puts an individual at much higher risk of developing a problem himself or herself.
Dr. Raskin: Early warning signs of addiction are drinking alcohol in the morning to get rid of a hangover; drinking until they pass out; changes in behavior, appearance and hygiene; becoming moody, depressed and angry.
What factors might make a college student more prone to substance abuse or addiction?
Dr. Aikins: There are some environmental and demographic risk factors, and then there are more situational factors that could make a college student prone to developing problem alcohol and drug use problems, including addiction. I’ll start with environmental factors: institutions with strong athletic cultures have higher rates of problem drinking and drug use. Also, students involved in Greek Life, athletics, or living in dormitories are statistically more likely to binge drink, and consequently, develop risky substance use habits.
The factors or questions that I would ask and give the most weight to are more personal, such as, do I have a personal or family history of alcoholism or addiction? Did I recently experience trauma, or is trauma/abuse a part of my personal history? Have I ever been diagnosed with anxiety or depression, or might I be drinking or using to self-medicating to cope with something (diagnosed or undiagnosed)? And lastly—and this relates to environmental factors—are heavy drinkers or drug users a part of my immediate peer group or culture?
Dr. Doyle: A (genetic) family history of addiction clearly elevates one’s risk. It might be worth checking in with parents about this, as not all families may have been forthcoming about this due to the stigma of substance use disorders.
Part of what makes college-age drinking or other substance use potentially problematic is the perception that students engage in it “because they can.” In other words, the consequences that would occur in the working world for missing responsibilities (i.e. getting fired) may not apply in quite the same way in college.
Dr. Raskin: A college student can be more prone to substance abuse or addition if they have a genetic predisposition to addiction; if they experience a significant stressor; if they are overwhelmed by college life; and if they have mental health issues such as depression or anxiety.
What are some ways friends and family could step in to help before it gets to a critical point?
Dr. Aikins: Just as a bystander can probably tell right before a non-consensual hook-up devolves into assault, or before a fight breaks out in a rowdy crowd, most friends and family are capable of detecting a troubling change in a student’s demeanor, or noticing when one-time mistakes become a pattern. With something as commonplace as alcohol intoxication, it can be tough to know when to act, but it never hurts to be empathetic and bluntly ask if somebody is okay. Increasingly, campus communities should take any and all early warnings of self-harm or suicidal ideation very seriously. In all of these cases, I’d try not to intervene personally and instead refer a student in need to appropriate help.
Dr. Doyle: Talk to the individual in a calm, caring way, as you would with someone who might have another chronic condition (think diabetes or heart disease), expressing your concern and offering to help. Offer to attend an open mutual help group meeting with the person experiencing potential addiction, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, or SMART Recovery. If very concerned, consider contacting the Dean of Students (or equivalent) on the campus to explore options.
Dr. Raskin: College friends can notify college counselors and health care professionals as well as the student’s parents. Parents should step in and take the child out of school and place them in a drug and alcohol rehab center, be sure they attend a 12-step program, and have them get therapy or counseling.
What can a college student expect when they reach out for help from a professional?
Dr. Aikins: Generally, you can expect professionalism, and most importantly, discretion. Psychological services, for example, are bound to patient confidentiality, which is really important for students to know because it means that they cannot and will not initiate disciplinary sanctions based on what you tell them in confidence (though suicidal ideation, violent threats, and indications of self-harm are rare exceptions). It’s important for students to know that most professional health resources are safe spaces in this regard, and if they’re not sure, ask.
Dr. Doyle: Usually, services start with some sort of assessment or evaluation to determine the severity of the problem, followed by some recommendations for how the professional suggests to proceed. A student should be prepared to consider whether he or she is interested in individual or group counseling, or perhaps both, in addition to using community-based recovery support groups such as A.A. A student can expect to be treated with dignity and respect, and for his/her confidentiality and privacy to be respected as well (unless in imminent danger of harm).
Dr. Raskin: They should expect medical help to detox as that can be dangerous; they can expect to be advised to enter a rehab center; see a therapist; and receive anti-craving medications.
Addiction on Campus: Resources
The resources below can help you learn more about addiction and substance abuse as well as find treatment and help. Each college or university will likely have a student health clinic to provide an initial consultation for addiction, as well as the ability to refer the student to appropriate help. Most if not all colleges and universities will also have a student help line that answers questions and provides advice for those dealing with addiction, and many colleges will have a counseling and psychological services department or division to help students who are concerned about addictions or abuse.
There are also more specific resources, depending upon the situation. Here are a few options at various colleges and universities across the nation.
- Dartmouth Center on Addiction, Recovery & Education
- Daytona State College – Substance Abuse/Addiction Resources
- Flagler College – Internet Addiction Resources
- Florida Institute of Technology — Counseling and Psychological Services
- Gateway Community College
- Gavilan College – Gambling Addiction
- James Madison University – Substance Abuse Prevention Toolbox
- Lake Superior College – Alcohol, Drugs, and Addiction
- Madison Area Technical College
- Nicholls State University – Family Resource Center – Addictions
- Ocean County College—Addictions Counseling
- Oklahoma State University – Alcohol and Substance Abuse Center
- Syracuse University – Counseling Center
- University of San Diego – Center for Health and Wellness Promotion
Alcohol and Drugs
General Addiction Resources
- American College Health Association – Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs/Substance Use
- American Society for Addiction Medicine
- College Alcohol Study – Key College Alcohol Study Publications
- Dual Recovery Anonymous
- Helping Others Live Sober
- HBO – Addiction
- Internet Addiction Resource
- Nar-Anon Family Groups
- National Social Norms Center at Michigan State University
- Partnership for Drug-Free Kids
- Self-Management and Recovery Training
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
- The Addiction Recovery Guide
- The Bacchus Network
- Web of Addictions
- Adolescent Development and Alcohol Use: An online power point presentation that discusses the nature and extent of underage drinking, and how it affects adolescent development decision making. Also, the interaction of genes and environment on underage drinking, as well as the extent of the underage drinking problem, are covered in this presentation.
- Drugs and the Brain: The effects of drugs on the brain, in both the recreational and medical context, are discussed. How and why the drug has the effect is has will be examined. Particular focus is placed on drug addiction and drug abuse.
- Generation Rx: The Science Behind Prescription Drug Abuse: This course looks into the rising prevalence of prescription drug abuse and common misconceptions about prescription drug abuse compared to other forms of abuse.
- PSY 130: Clinical Psychology: This class provides a wide overview and explanation of psychological dysfunction, including addiction. Different theories for explaining and treating mental disorders will be examined.
- PSYC 179 – Drugs, Addiction and Mental Disorders: A full course available online through video podcasts, which goes through the basics of drug nomenclature and classification, as well as covers illicit drug use and therapeutic drug use. The fundamentals of addiction also make up a major portion of this course.
- The Addicted Brain: This class focuses on the concept of addiction, whether it is an addiction to a substance or activity. What happens to the brain when addiction occurs, treatment, and public policy are also reviewed in this course.
Understanding Addiction in College
Addiction can take many forms. Some might find an escape of sorts in drugs and alcohol, while others might turn to gambling, food or even the internet. College students are especially prone to falling victim to numerous abusive and addictive behaviors, and at the top of that danger list are drugs and alcohol. Illegal drugs, prescription drugs, an alcohol of all kinds are readily available to those on college campuses. In addition, there are other temptations, such as tobacco, pornography, computer games and even social media. Understanding addiction in college, why so many kids are prone to it, and what can be done to stop it are all important points to consider.
Causes of Substance Abuse in College Students
College students are highly susceptible to abusing drugs and alcohol for a number of reasons. In most cases one of these reasons might be enough; but college students are often hit with several of these at once, which increases the odds that they will fall into patterns of substance abuse and eventual addiction.
INCREASED FREEDOM.College is often the first time many students have little or no parental oversight. Parents aren’t with them to enforce certain rules or enact punishments. This makes it much easier to use drugs and/or alcohol.
AVAILABILITY OF DRUGS AND ALCOHOL.Certain substances, especially alcohol, are easily and readily available in college. In fact, they are often given away for free. Even if a student had access to drugs and alcohol in high school, chances are, they were not as easily accessible as they are in college.
PEER PRESSURE.The desire to fit in is as strong, if not stronger, in college than it was in the high school setting. Additionally, students are exposed to people and activities they have never encountered before.
ACADEMIC PRESSURE.The need to succeed academically can create an atmosphere conducive to substance abuse. Whether it’s the use of drugs to help you study or perform better in class, or as a means to “get away,” pressure to do well in school increases the chances of substance abuse.
STRESS.Balancing a new social life, new environment, classes and/or a job can be overwhelming. Similar to dealing with academic pressure, drugs and alcohol can serve as a way to cope with or function in the college life.
CURIOSITY.College is often a time for students to try new things. This experimentation can include trying new activities…and substances.
FEELINGS OF INADEQUACY.Not everyone is the popular and likeable extrovert, yet there is pressure to act like one. Students may take drugs or alcohol as a way of getting over their reluctance, shyness or low self-esteem.
GREEK LIFE.In the Greek life, peer pressure can be magnified or replaced with hazing, forced substance use and more – possibly even death for those who are pushed past their limits. According to the U.S. Department of Education, students who are involved in fraternities or sororities are 26 percent more likely to binge drink.
BODY IMAGE ISSUES.The desire to fit in or be liked skyrockets in college. This can lead to eating disorders and/or use of substances to help young men and women control their weight or eating.
IMPROVED ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE.College sports is serious business. The abuse of certain drugs to enhance performance is often taken to a whole new level. The potential for professional contracts, scholarships, TV exposure and much more can make this desire for certain drugs even more potent.
Some students may come to college with addictive behavior well under wayDrug abuse or addiction isn’t something that magically happens when someone enters their freshman year; it might actually be well established before that. In a 2014 survey, 35.1 per cent of 12th graders admitted to having taken marijuana within the last year. Also within the last year, 6.8 percent o 12th graders admitted to taking Adderall, 4.8 percent to taking Vicodin, 3.6 percent to taking MDMA (Ecstasy) and 2.6% percent to taking cocaine. With numbers like that, it isn’t surprising that some students enter college with a drug addiction in place, or poised to head down that road as they taste the freedom that college often brings.
Warning Signs of Addiction
It’s important for students to learn and understand some of the potential warning signs of addiction and substance abuse, for self-assessment and to potentially help a friend or family member who may be struggling. The list below includes some of these warning signs:
Seizures (with no medical history to explain the seizures)
Frequent or unusual nosebleeds
Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when the substance is stopped
Unusual neglect with respect to physical appearance
Unusual and drastic weight loss/gain
Reduced memory and/or concentration ability
Slurred or incoherent speech
Unusual smells on the body or clothing
Shaking or tremors
Spending time or money that one does not have, in order to feed the addiction
Problems or trouble at home or at work/school
Loss of desire to do the things once enjoyed
Unusual changes in behavior
Strange or new eating habits
Money problems or unusual sources of income
Unavailability of the individual, as if they have “disappeared” for an extended period of time
Unusual sleeping habits, such as being up all night and sleeping during the day
New sets of friends
Secrecy about one’s activities or other suspicious behavior
A fixation on being able to continue the behavior
Hiding and/or denial of the addiction
Keep in mind that this list is general, not definitive. One or two warning signs might mean nothing. But the more warning signs that appear, the more likely someone has an addiction.
Addiction on College Campuses by Type
Alcohol is everywhere on college campuses – and the fact that someone has to be twenty-one year of age in order to purchase or consume alcohol is hardly a consideration. In fact, alcohol and binge drinking is the most common addiction among college students.
What is Binge Drinking?
Moderate drinking is defined as one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men. Binge drinking, on the other hand, is defined as having a large amount of alcohol in a short period of time. How much alcohol? Most sources define binge drinking as consuming four to five drinks over the course of two hours. Put another way, binge drinking is drinking enough alcohol to raise one’s blood alcohol concentration to 0.08 grams per deciliter – a very high concentration.
Reasons for Binge Drinking
There can be multiple reasons for why a college student binge drinks. The major reason is simply college culture. A combination of peer pressure, social approval, Greek life and alcohol availability combine to facilitate binge drinking. Some of the more specific reasons for binge drinking include:
- Doing it to be “cool” or fit in
- In order to get drunk
- Doing it because it’s “fun”
- Serves as a way to enjoy college freedom
- Provides an “excuse” for acting irresponsible
- Helps facilitate social interaction
- Because it can be done
- Because “everyone else” is doing it
Consequences of Alcohol in College
Just as with any other action, there can be negative consequences to drinking in college. The consequences of binge drinking are especially sobering:
Those who binge drink about one time per week are about three times as likely (than non-binge drinkers) to blackout, damage property, suffer a physical injury, see their grades suffer, drink and drive, or have unprotected sex.
Alcohol kills over1,800college students each year.
More than 150,000college students have an alcohol related problem.
25%of college students report to experiencing a negative academic consequence as a result of alcohol
About100,000college students are victim to rape or sexual assault where alcohol is involved.
Almost700,000college students are assaulted by someone who had been drinking.
About5%of college students have had at least one run-in with law enforcement of campus security as a consequence of drinking.
Greek Life and Drinking
Fraternities and sororities are notorious for promoting drinking culture in college, especially binge drinking. There are numerous reasons why Greek life and drinking go hand-in-hand:
FREE ALCOHOLFraternities and sororities usually host or arrange parties, include acquisition of alcohol.
RESIDENTIAL ON-CAMPUS LIVINGStudents who live on-campus are more likely to drink than students who live off-campus.
HAZINGMuch of the Greek life hazing involves rituals that involve consuming large amounts of alcohol.
PEER PRESSUREDrinking in a fraternity or sorority is almost ingrained into Greek life. This creates tremendous pressure to drink in order to fit in.
REDUCED SCHOOL SUPERVISIONUnlike conventional on campus housing, Greek housing usually does not have a residential advisor living among the students. This leads to less enforcement of underage and other alcohol rules or laws.
Just how bad is it? Statistics show that those who are involved in Greek life tend to drink more heavily and more often than those who are non-Greek students. The biggest single factor for determining if someone will binge drink is whether they are a member of or live in Greek housing. When it comes to academics, 50 percent of students in Greek life report a negative academic consequence as a result of drinking, as compared to 25 percent of non-Greek students.
The Pathway to Alcohol Addiction
No one simply becomes an addict. There is a progression of the problem, starting from sobriety and slowly following a spectrum that ends with addiction. Here’s how it works for many people who find themselves addicted to alcohol or drugs.
This is where it always begins. A person who is considered in sobriety is someone who doesn’t consume any alcohol at all, or partakes very infrequently. They have no problems with walking away from alcohol, and when they do, they don’t miss it.
The consumption of alcohol for recreational purposes, but not so much that it is considered such that binge or heavy drinking. This is often synonymous with social drinking; a moderate amount of consumption. At this stage, someone might see drinking alcohol as something natural or expected at a party, dinner or other event.
At some point, those with an Alcohol Use Disorder make this transition, where recreational use becomes much more frequent. Alcohol Use Disorders are characterized as mild, moderate or severe depending on a variety of warning signs.
Popular Drugs on College Campuses
Alcohol is not the only thing that college students can fall victim to over the course of their time in school. Drug abuse and drug addiction are on the rise on college campuses. Drug abuse might consist of using illicit and illegal drugs, abusing over-the-counter drugs, or turning to prescription drugs to get a “high” or “fix.” Here are some of the most common drugs found on college campuses.
STUDY DRUGSSome drugs are prescribed by doctors for legitimate medical concerns, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or narcolepsy. Unfortunately, many students seek out prescriptions that they really don’t need, or stop taking the medication if they do need it, in order to sell it to others. The market for these drugs – particularly Adderall – has skyrocketed on college campuses in recent years. The most common uses are for weight loss, athletic performance, as a study aid (to help students stay awake and energized), or as a recreational drug that allows the user to feel a euphoric high. To make matters worse, a 2008 study found that 81 percent of college students didn’t see the illicit use of Adderall as dangerous.
MARIJUANAOn some campuses, marijuana is the drug of choice, outweighing even the use of alcohol among the student population. Marijuana is known for reducing anxiety, increasing appetite, giving the user hallucinations and providing a pleasant, mellow high. However, addiction to marijuana is just like that to any other drug – numerous problems can result from abuse.
ECSTASYThis drug, also known as Molly or MDMA, is considered a “party drug” that can have dire consequences for those who take it. The drug might be cut with others, such as cocaine, and might even contain rat poison. One of the biggest draws of ecstasy is the amorous high and lowered inhibitions, which is why this is often called a “date rape” drug.
PRESCRIPTION DRUGS“Pharm parties” are a very dangerous practice often used at parties in college. This consists of taking a variety of prescription drugs in order to experience the side effects and interactions, which sometimes include a “high” or other effect that is surprising to the user. Students might also abuse some prescription drugs outside of these parties, such as narcotic pain medications.
HARDER DRUGSThough drugs such as heroin and cocaine are not as prevalent as other on college campuses, they are often available. These harder drugs can quickly lead to abuse and addiction, and can also lead to other serious consequences, such as legal issues or financial problems.
In addition to the drugs that most people think of when “drug abuse” is mentioned, there are many other drugs that college students turn to that might surprise you. Some of these abuses are relatively new, while others have been around for a long time, and are only now getting attention in the media for being a serious problem.
Abuse of diet pills has been going on for decades, especially on college campuses. These pills are often taken as a way to drop weight fast and “fit in” with peers. Many of them contain substances that speed up metabolism, and thus can lead to being more alert or active. Diet pills alone can be addictive, or they can be combined with other drugs for different effects.
These medications are designed to be taken only as directed when you are sick, but many students choose to abuse them. When combined with other drugs, cough or cold medicine can offer a high, but can also become lethal.
Those who partake of cigarettes, cigars and chew tobacco have been around for decades, but new options for the smoking habit have gotten press in recent years. E-cigarettes are often considered a safer alternative to the traditional cigarette, but they come with their own set of problems and can possibly be a gateway to addiction to nicotine. Hookah is often considered a fun social event, but the premise is the same: You are inhaling something that could be dangerous to your health.
Steroid use, especially among athletes, has long been a problem on college campuses. Some see them as a necessity in order to keep up with the competition – however, the side effects are strong and long-lasting, sometimes leading to serious issues like kidney failure, stroke or heart attack.
This is a short list of the most common drugs, but there are numerous others out there, including synthetic marijuana, bath salts, ketamine, inhalants and more. Students should always be aware that any pill, drink or substance offered could be filled with harmful and potentially addictive chemicals.
Other Types of Addictions
Drugs and alcohol are both serious addictions. However, those are not the extent of the addictions that college students might face. There are numerous activities that might entice a college student to eventually fall into addictive behavior. These are a few of the more common addictions that college students might face, and they have little or nothing to do with alcohol or drugs.
VIDEO GAMESIf you have ever played a video game and lost track of time, you are like most college students. However, if playing video games becomes more of a reality than your real world is, leading to eschewing responsibilities in order to continue playing, that’s a problem. Those who are addicted to video games might spend hours on end playing them, to the point of missing class, choosing not to attend social events, and even skipping meals in order to continue what they are doing.
SEXThough college students might joke that it is impossible to have too much sex, that’s not true. An addiction to sex can lead a person to do many things that they would not otherwise do, such as having unprotected sex, having sex with many partners, or seeking out sex from strangers. When sex becomes more important than going to class or doing any other activity, it might be an indication of a serious problem.
PORNOGRAPHYPorn is widely available for almost any college student, and the vast amounts of it online are an open door to potential addiction. The premise of addiction to porn is the same as that of any other addiction – you begin to turn to it to the exclusion of other things, hide your activities from friends, and let responsibilities slide in order to watch one more video or flip through one more set of pictures.
INTERNETIt’s entirely possible to become addicted to the wide world of the Web. From message boards to real-time gaming to simply spending hours on end looking at videos on YouTube, internet addiction is a very real problem that affects many college students.
GAMBLINGSome fall prey to the thrill of the game, and when money or the exchange of other items is involved, the stakes are much higher. Gambling can quickly become an addiction, especially for those who spend money on the habit, lose it, and then want to win it back. The anticipation that the next hand or round will be the winner can keep players going long after they should have stopped.
Risks and Consequences
All the drinking and drug use that happens in college eventually bears not-so-good fruit for the students who fall into addictive patterns. Schools recognize that there are many problems on campus, and as a result they have come up with consequences that can hopefully keep the problem in check.
The Consequences of Drinking on Campus
All colleges and universities have official policies prohibiting underage possession and consumption of alcohol and illegal drugs. Some schools have policies that allow for alcohol on campus, but only for those of proper drinking age. Others allow alcohol, but with certain restrictions on the type of alcohol allowed.
An example of a typical drug and alcohol policy can be found at Wofford College. With respect to alcohol, minor first offenses usually result in alcohol education, community service, and a $100.00 fine. A minor second offense will result in the same sanctions as a minor first offense, but with a “formal warning” and a higher fine. Only the third minor offense may lead to a suspension or expulsion.
Wofford College also has an alcohol amnesty policy for those who seek help for another. As long as the student who called for help only violated an alcohol policy, information obtained during the course of medical treatment will not be used to punish the Good Samaritan who sought help.
With respect to drug use and possession, the first drug offense will result in drug education, a $200.00 fine and a letter to the students’ parents. A second offense can result in suspension or expulsion. If the student is trying to sell or distribute drugs, the student will be expelled.
Dartmouth is another excellent example. The college recently initiated a plan that has restricted alcohol allowed on campus as well as in fraternities and sororities. Starting in the spring of 2015, students may not possess or consume hard liquor – that is alcohol that is 30 proof or stronger.
Prevention of Alcohol and Drug Abuse on Campus
Colleges and universities are taking the problem of drug and alcohol abuse or addiction very seriously. To that end, they have not only put consequences in place, but have also moved into hard-hitting initiatives that will help prevent the problem in the first place. Here are some of the great things schools around the country are doing to keep their students safe and healthy.
Dartmouth recently changed its Greek life policies. Fraternities and sororities are still allowed to exist and accept new members, but they are no longer allowed to have “pledging,” a time where new members (or members-to-be) must “prove” themselves. Pledging often involves extreme drinking and hazing.
Worcester Polytechnic InstituteWorcester Polytechnic Institute has several programs to help students avoid alcohol and drug abuse. The following is a list of programs and organizations that compose WPI’s Alcohol & Drug Education program:
- The Alcohol & Drug Task Force: promotes communal awareness and education about substance abuse.
- Alcohol EDU: An alcohol education and prevent program required of all student s.
- PASS (Promoting Alcohol & Substance Safety): turns to educators to inform students about the risks of drugs and alcohol as well as how to provide help for those struggling with either.
- Step Up: Originally from University of Arizona, it is an intervention program to enhance campus safety, especially with drugs and alcohol. This program is required for those who are a part of Greek life.
- BASICS (Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students): an intervention program to help students assess their own alcohol habits.
- Substance abuse counseling or consultation: available to all students
Boston CollegeBoston College has an award-winning prevention program, as recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Called the Early Intervention and Education Program (EIEP), it consists of several components. Students may voluntarily join the EIEP or be required to take it as a part of the rehabilitation process for certain student violations. The EIEP offers individual assessment, counseling and referral for treatment, if necessary. Notable components of EIEP include:
- e-CHUG: an online alcohol abuse prevention program
- CHOICES: a short alcohol abuse prevention program
- MODE (Marijuana and Other Drug Education): a 90 minute meeting with the goal of reducing negative consequences from marijuana use.
- AIM (Alcohol Intervention Meeting): a counseling group that meets weekly to reduce harm that may come from alcohol use.
- MIM (Marijuana Intervention Meeting): similar to AIM, but deals with marijuana use.
- Substance Abuse Assessment: A meeting with a counselor, where the student is required to comply with the counselor’s assessment of the student.
The University of VirginiaThe University of Virginia also has a huge number of drug and alcohol abuse prevention programs. Some are intended for all students, first year students or certain high risk groups, such as fraternity and sorority members. Programs of note include:
- Alcohol-Wise: A required online alcohol education program for all first year students.
- ADAPT (Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Team) and PHR (Peer Health Educators): selected students who promote public awareness and provide education to reduce harm that may stem from alcohol or drug use.
- Fraternal Organization Agreement requirements: each fraternity and sorority chapter must have at least one hour of alcohol education each year with at least 70% of the members attending.
- SAFE Spring Break: peer educators promote safe spring break behavior by asking students to sign a pledge not to drink and drive while receiving a bag of swag in return.