Alcohol and drug abuse in college

The issue of alcohol and drug abuse on college campuses is a major indication of a larger, overarching problem. What about college leads to this, and can it be changed?

The nationwide, consistent and generationally-cyclical issues have plagued college campuses since their conception, beginning around 1820 according to Michael Steven Hevel at the University of Iowa.

The cycle of drug use on college campuses can be acutely traced through three major reasons, according to AddictionCenter. “Shifts in public perception of drugs, changes in legislation that make penalties more or less severe and the availability of certain drugs, especially prescriptions,” the report lists.

The Promises Treatment Center published a report with a few contributing factors, ranging from genetic predispositions to one’s current environment. Family history, mental illness, metabolism and unresolved trauma are the first half of these factors, but the last half could be more telling during years in college.

First and foremost, college environment and peer influence-- “Students often come to big universities from smaller towns and have to figure out how to succeed academically and socially,” the report says. “Partying is a daily part of college life and students’ social lives often revolve around drinking or using drugs.”

If FOMO is persuading you to hit the bars instead of the books, evaluation of those choices might be needed to ensure your health, wellbeing and academic success.  But, what if coursework is pushing you towards the abuse? The Promise Treatment Center deems that completely feasible.

“College students may take drugs to keep up with schoolwork, improve focus or get better grades.” Adderall, Concerta, Focalin or Ritalin are all “smart drugs” on the rise and could be increasingly harmful to college campuses.

Time reports that these “smart drugs” may “offer better mental performance, [but] the long term effects appear to do the opposite.” Time lists that even low doses can harm nerve activity, memory and complex learning abilities.

“The use of drugs by people hoping to boost mental performance is rising worldwide, finds the largest study of the trend. In a survey of tens of thousands of people, 14% reported using stimulants at least once in the preceding 12 months in 2017,” reported Nature, International Journal of Science. The previous 2015 survey found that only 5% of people questioned had experience with the drugs.

With WVU ranking consistently within the top few party schools across the U.S., when does being a Mountaineer become dangerous in terms of drug and alcohol abuse?

For professional help with alcohol and drug abuse, contact SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) national helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357), or the National Drug Helpline at 1-866-236-1651.

For WVU students, visit the Collegiate Recovery Program.