What Every College Student Should Know About Substance Abuse

It is safe to say that at some point in our lives we have all heard stories about college parties, gruesome hangovers, or perhaps even reminisced ourselves in winning a game of beer pong. College partying has become increasingly socially acceptable no matter what university you attend or what age you are. College is an exciting time of life that should be brimming with self-discovery instead of substance abuse. However, most of us are at high risk of developing a substance use disorder at some time during our college years, and are scarily unaware of it. 


Experts claim that binge-drinking and illicit drug use is at an all-time high in students our age (18-29). In fact, 1 out of 5 U.S. college students have met the criteria for possessing a binge-drinking alcohol disorder in 2018 according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Binge-drinking is classified as six or more drinks for males and five or more drinks for females within a single sitting. Unfortunately, that’s not even the worst of it. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University conducted a recent study to measure the dangerous consequences of alcohol and found that roughly 1,700 students die per year due to alcohol-related deaths. Furthermore, The National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health report approximately 37% have abused both illicit drugs and alcohol on a consistent basis throughout college. The alarming statistics speak for themselves, that we as college students are struggling and are in a mental health and substance abuse epidemic. 

Many young adults who meet the criteria for both a mental health and substance use disorder remain unaware and therefore, undiagnosed...


The question is not why substance abuse is such a prevalent issue among college students, but rather, how can this issue propel us into a better, brighter, and, most importantly, cleaner future? A good start would be to address the prolific amount of mental and emotional disorders that affect us students especially. It is estimated that 50-75% of those diagnosed with a mental health disorder are dually diagnosed with a substance use disorder. The worst part is many young adults who meet the criteria for both a mental health and substance use disorder remain unaware and therefore, undiagnosed, leaving them to never get the help they so rightfully deserve. 

The second step toward a cleaner and healthier future is shifting the culture and social normality of college binge-drinking around our campus and campuses around the country. The goal is not to condemn or patronize those who abuse substances, but to plant the seed for change in their life, so that they can live a high-quality life. If you or someone you know needs help, please refer to the contact information below. We are young, and life is too fragile to lose it to a substance.   

GCU Student Care: 

Monday - Friday: 8 am - 5 pm

602-639-7007 [email protected] Student Affairs | Building 26, Second Floor

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline: 

1-800-662-HELP (4357) open 24/7 365 days a year 

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Helpline: 

1-800-950-NAMI (6264)