Partying is a widely accepted, and often glamorized, part of the college experience. Unfortunately, this can lead to substance abuse and addiction for many young people. Not only that, but lack of acknowledgement of the issue can further compound the problem. Here’s a closer look at the phenomenon, along with the important role collegiate recovery communities are playing in supporting sobriety among today’s co-eds.
College Students and Substance Abuse
According to the latest data shared by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), substance abuse is common on college campuses. Here are some eye-opening findings:
- Daily marijuana use has been steadily on the rise over the past two decades. While 3.7 percent of full-time college students reported using marijuana every day in 1995, this number climbed to 4.6 percent in 2015.
- A staggering 31.9 percent of students engaged in binge drinking (five or more drinks in a row) within the past two weeks compared to 23.7 percent in the non-college group. Meanwhile, 38.4 percent had been intoxicated over the past month compared to 24.9 percent of their peers in the non-college group.
- While cocaine fell from 5.4 percent to 2.7 percent in the years between 2005 and 2013, it has had a troubling resurgence in recent years.
While it’s true that experimentation is a “normal” part of college life, the risky behaviors such as binge drinking, prescription drug abuse, and recreational drug use that go along with it can lead to significant problems.
Experts attribute this to a number of factors. For starters, there is stress. Many students experience higher levels of coursework in college. The demands of part-time jobs and social obligations can compound this stress, leading to drug use as a coping mechanism. Not only that, but many students start taking stimulants like Adderall to stay awake in order to keep up with their work.
Other reasons aren’t related to the workload at all, such as peer pressure and curiosity. Not only are many college students away from their families and on their own for the first time in their lives, but they’re also surrounded by other people who may be experiencing with drugs and alcohol. This may make them more likely to try these things themselves.
Speaking of peer pressure, Greek life can be a major contributor. According to the US Department of Education’s Higher Education Center, students who are in fraternities and sororities are up to 26 percent more likely to binge drink than their peers. They’re also more likely to abuse Adderall and other prescription drugs.
The Role of Collegiate Recovery Communities
Because of the escalating problem of substance abuse on college campuses, more colleges and universities are stepping up to help students overcome their addictions and reach their academic goals. In partnership with rehabilitation programs, CRCs are playing a central role in the effort. This is especially important as the needs of people in recovery are often overlooked in the college experience. Explains the Association of Recovery in Higher Education (ARHE), “While other groups of classically marginalized populations have begun to find a foothold and support within the university settings (e.g., LGBTQ, gender equality, ethnic identities), those in recovery have largely been left out in the cold due to the fact that their needs run counter to the dominant narrative of the college world.”
Located on college campuses and often falling under the auspices of a school’s counseling or mental health office, CRCs provide a safe and supportive environment for college students in recovery. In addition to providing key services like counseling and support group meetings, they also offer opportunities for socialization among sober peers. Given the critical role environment plays in treatment and recovery, this aspect of CRCs is invaluable. Additionally, students are also very active in CRC programming and activities, which can be uniquely empowering.
Wondering whether a CRC is right for a college student in your life? Eligibility requirements vary from school to school but usually mandate that students abstain from drugs and alcohol. Others may require evidence of completion of a treatment program, letters of recommendation, and a minimum participation requirement in meetings and service projects.
While substance abuse can be an obstacle for many colleges, there is always hope for recovery — especially as more people let go of stereotypes and stigmas about addiction. To learn more about leading St. Louis rehabilitation program Harris House’s addiction recovery programs for college students, contact us today.