It won’t make front page news to learn that the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse has stated that college students register higher rates of alcohol and drug abuse than the post-college adult population. One of many reasons that college students have higher rates of substance abuse is that the 18-25 year old brain has not fully developed in areas of judgment and impulse control while the area responsible for risk-taking and pleasure-seeking is just reaching its peak.
If you ask college kids why they choose to engage in risky behavior such as substance abuse, they will not likely say it is because of their under-developed brain. They may say that they take drugs to help them maintain their GPA.
Today’s college students are taking stimulants and prescription medications. In fact, use of the drug Adderall (designed to treat ADD/ADHD patients) is so prevalent that it is referred to as the ‘study drug’. The medication helps users focus intently. Kids feeling pressure to earn and maintain high scores are turning to the drug to help them during study periods.
The other problem substance among college students mirrors the general population in its abuse of prescription drugs, particularly painkillers – a problem that continues to escalate across the nation.
Unfortunately, abusing substances and dangerous behavior often go hand in hand. According to the CORE Alcohol and Drug Survey (2008), over 37 percent of college students self-reported flagrant misconduct such as vandalism or DUI while they were under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Another 25 percent reported that they had been involved in even more serious problems such as an attempted suicide or became victims of a sexual assault while they abused substances.
A few universities (Rutgers and Texas Tech for example) have begun to offer on-campus rehab housing and treatment programs. The White House and the Department of Education like the idea and are promoting it to other colleges.