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Substance Use in Education: Addiction Resources for Higher Education

College students constitute one of the largest groups of drug and alcohol abusers, and people ages 18 to 24 are at a higher risk of developing an addiction than other age groups. Full-time college students are about two times as likely to abuse alcohol and drugs than their peer who is not pursuing a degree. It’s imperative to consider higher education addiction resources to help combat substance abuse among college students

The Scale of the Problem

  • 37.5% of college males drink heavily
  • 33.3% of college females drink heavily
  • 3.7% of college males drink daily
  • 20 percent of college students meet the criteria for having an alcohol use disorder
  • About 2,000 college students die each year from accidental alcohol-related injuries

Read our blog, “When does Casual Drinking Become Alcoholism” here.

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Alcohol Use Among College Students

College Alcoholism affects millions of students every year and their families. Alcohol consumption and binge drinking have become part of the college experience. About 80% of college students drink alcohol, and half of those admit binge drinking or consuming large quantities of alcohol in a short period of time.

However, many teens begin drinking alcohol well before they move into the dorms. The freedom from being under the watchful eye of parents can be exhilarating, but it can also come with risks and sometimes severe consequences. One of the key drivers of alcohol consumption in College is its availability. Parties, bars, the ever-present tailgates before the weekend football game and having friends and classmates over the age of 21 make obtaining alcohol easy. What may innocently start as one beer can quickly escalate into a round of beer pong or flip-cup. Innocuous drinking can soon lead to binge drinking and increased tolerance to alcohol, leading to larger quantities.

Bring drinking increases the odds of developing alcohol use disorder (AUD). AUD can result in severe physical and emotional damage to the afflicted individual. If caught early, the effect may be short-lived. However, some consequences can last for years or inflict permanent damage. Educators, advisors, university staff, and family and friends need to be able to identify the warning signs of AUD and make a critical early intervention.

AspenRidge’s licensed clinicians and admissions specialists care trained to provide resources, top-notch care and assistance to professionals and individuals in need of treatment. Further information for treatment programs can be found on our website or by giving AspenRidge Recovery Centers a call directly 24/7 is also available by phone at (855) 281-5588.

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Recognizing Warning Signs of Substance Use and Addiction in College Students

How can you tell when a student is abusing drugs or alcohol? Substance abuse will often come with behavioral changes that are easy to detect if you’re paying attention. If you notice someone is displaying one or all the following signs, you may want to stage an intervention or at least alert someone who can help. There are online tests that can help determine if a student has gone too far with substance abuse.

Potential Warning Signs:

  • Deteriorating grades
  • Change in appearance
  • Criminal charges such as DUI, DWAI, physical or sexual assault
  • Decreased Interest in Extracurricular College Activities
  • Uncharacteristic mood swings
  • Shifts in sleeping patterns

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Our clients have ample resources for effective substance abuse treatment that addresses their individual needs. To learn more about our LGBTQ-specific addiction treatment center, contact us today.

Substance Abuse in College Students Can Cause Behavioral Changes

A student may start inhibiting certain behaviors that will indicate they’re abusing substances. As they continue to use, the brain forces further changes in behavior. Couple this with someone who is under the influence of, and their behavior can become erratic. Here are some of the following behaviors that indicate substance abuse. The more you notice these things from someone, the more likely they need help with addiction.

  • Acts of emotional, physical, and verbal abuse
  • Neglectful of property and people
  • Provoking fights or assaulting other people
  • Illogical thinking
  • Drunk driving charges
  • Unsafe sexual practices
  • They may commit or be the victim of sexual assault
  • Risking their safety and others around them
  • Blackout periods with no memory

Drug and alcohol abuse on college campuses has been a problem for decades. They create addiction in the early stages of adult life, and without help, they could lead to long-term problems. It’s essential to pay attention to the patterns and behaviors of students. If it goes too far, they may lose sight of their hopes and dreams. They risk consequences related to not attending classes or a falling GPA. This could lead to expulsion, and hey may also face legal trouble. When substance abuse takes over someone’s life, they stop caring about their studies.

The Reasons Behind Increased Drug and Alcohol use in College

Various reasons can cause college students to seek relief or escape. Several issues can cause high rates of drug use among college students. As students face the high demands of college-level work, internships, and jobs, they may turn to drugs and alcohol as a form of relief. The switch from high school homework to tenured professors’ demands may also add a layer of pressure and stress. Adderall and other stimulants are often used and abused by tired and overworked students to help squeeze a few more hours of study time out of the day. These prescription drugs are usually prescribed for ADHD—not as a study aid—and obtained without a prescription.

Peer Pressure Among College Students

Curiosity and peer pressure are also common reasons for experimentation in college students. University campuses are a mix of people with diverse upbringings and histories with substances. It is common for students to mingle with others who are curious about specific drugs. When these peer groups collide, its members become more likely to engage in experimentation.

Drugs of Choice (DOC) on College Campuses

The popularity of drugs ebbs and flows like other trends. The list below contains drugs that are generally considered to be easily accessible on college campuses. However, all drugs can be and are used by college students.


Alcohol is the most used and misused substance on college campuses. Since it is considered normal to consume and a part of the culture, it’s responsible for the vast majority of substance-related issues at universities.


Adderall, Ritalin, and other prescription stimulants have risen in popularity in the past two decades. The drug is often acquired without a valid medical reason or legitimate prescription.


The switch from high school homework to tenured professors’ demands may also add a layer of pressure and stress. Eleven states and the District of Columbia (as of July 2020) have legalized recreational use of marijuana, and 33 allow its use for various medical conditions. These factors make the drug even more readily obtainable by minors.

Prescription Drugs

Although legally obtainable, prescription drugs have become commonplace on college campuses. Opioids such as OxyContin, Vicodin, and the incredibly powerful fentanyl are often overprescribed for longer than necessary durations. These factors, along with general curiosity about mood-altering substance among college students, creates an environment ripe for misuse. Opiates quickly build a tolerance in the body, and users need increasingly higher levels of the drug to produce the same effects. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, many heroin users began using prescription pain pills. As a result of tolerance and the high cost of acquiring these drugs on the black market, addicts often turn their much cheaper cousin heroin to replace prescription narcotics.

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Finding Help for Addiction

You can stop the cycle of substance abuse if you’re a friend or faculty member. There are many ways you can help someone who seems to be going down the wrong path. The first step will be to pay attention to the signs. If substance abuse does lead to addiction in a student, they may need to attend a treatment program. The college years should enhance a person’s life so they can move on to a fulfilling future.

Treatment at AspenRidge Recovery

AspenRidge Recovery has experience treating adults from all socioeconomic and employment backgrounds. We also offer a host of programs to serve individuals with vastly different needs.  Such services at AspenRidge include several options of which are listed below.

Our Programs

  • PHP Day Program
  • Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP)
    • Day IOP
    • Professional IOP
    • Community IOP
    • Virtual IOP
  • Outpatient Treatment Program

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Addiction Therapy Options

Our passion is to help make sobriety an integral part of daily life. We can help develop coping skills during one or more of our addiction therapy programs. These therapy programs may include:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Dialectical behavior therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Trauma therapy
  • Life skills training

These therapy options can be part of individualized treatment. As part of our addiction treatment programs, we also offer dual diagnosis treatment in our community intensive outpatient program. Mental illness and addiction often appear together. Sometimes addiction causes mental illness. Other times mental illness causes addiction. In both cases, it is critical to get treatment for both disorders at the same time. That is where a dual diagnosis program can be helpful. Dual diagnosis programs allow us to treat these problems simultaneously for those who suffer from both an addiction and a mental illness.

Collegiate Recovery Programs

Many colleges and universities across the United States have rolled out Collegiate Recovery Programs to assist students in recovery. According to the Association of Recovery in Higher Education’s (ARHE) website, “Collegiate Recovery Programs (CRP) is a College or University-provided, supportive environment within the campus culture that reinforces the decision to engage in a lifestyle of recovery from substance use. It is designed to provide an educational opportunity alongside recovery support to ensure that students do not have to sacrifice one for the other.”

Statistics on CRPs

Collegiate Recovery Programs are a great way to assist students on your campus and create a community of recovering young people. For more information and assistance in starting a program at your institution, please visit the Association of Recovery in Higher Education’s (ARHE) website. The organization can assist you in setting up and implementing a program on your campus.