Essay Sample on Substance Abuse Among College Students

Published: 2023-01-02
Essay Sample on Substance Abuse Among College Students
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  College Substance abuse Drug abuse
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1630 words
14 min read

Substance use is an issue that has been affecting most people particularly the young population between the age of eighteen to twenty-four across the globe. In the united states, the issue of substance use has been affecting most college students across the country. According to research approximately 19.2% of female and 26% male college students have engaged in substance use across the country(McCabe et al., 2007). There is also a huge gap between the rate of substance use among the non-college attending students and college attending students since most college student usually engage in drug and substance use at a higher rate as compared to the non-collage attending students. The college students usually experience unique challenges in school that make them use various substances such as marijuana, alcohol, and other prescription drugs. Engaging in substance use triggers various consequences such as reduced school performance, mental health problem, engaging in risky behaviors such as thefts, and an enhanced risk of injury. The aim of this study is to focus on substance abuse among college students.

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Epidemiology of substance use among college students.


Alcohol is the most commonly abused substance by college students in the united states. According to research, approximately 60.5% of students across the country are reported to have taken alcohol at least one time in the previous year(McCabe et al., 2007). Most college students usually endorse heavy episodic drinking which is mainly defined as four or more drinks in one session for the female students and five or more drinks in a single session for the male students. It is also estimated that approximately 10% to 20% of first-year college students usually drink alcohol at a level that is twice that of a normal drinking threshold (McCabe et al., 2007). Alcohol is perceived to be the biggest contributor to most deaths and accidents among college students. According to research alcohol abuse causes approximately 600000 assaults, 1400 deaths, 500000 injuries and 100000 sexual assaults annually in various colleges within the country (Hingson et al., 2009). Heavy episodic drinking among college students results to a problematic drinking behavior that persists for about seven years after college.


The rate of marijuana use among college students has increased tremendously over the past seven years in the united states. Marijuana use has increased throughout college with approximately 40% of students supporting marijuana use before joining college, approximately 50% of students engaging in marijuana use during their first year in college and approximately 60% of students engaging in marijuana use before getting to their sophomore year(Simons et al., 2005). Marijuana use tends to create the drive to use other illicit drugs such as heroin and cocaine. Marijuana use in collages has been perceived to be the main contributor of the increased school dropouts cases and reduced performances.


The rate of cigarette smoking in colleges has reduced significantly since the year 1997(Simons et al., 2005). However, there is still a significant number of college students who still engage in cigarettes smoking. For example, the students who are in their first year in college and have parents who are college educated are more likely to smoke cigarettes as compared to other students. According to research approximately 33% of college students who smoke also use the smokeless tobacco products such as snus (White & Hingson, 2013). In the recent past, other alternative forms of tobacco such as e-cigarettes and hookah have become popular in colleges thus making the rate of tobacco use to remain persistent.

Prescription drugs.

The non-medical use of various prescription drugs has been an issue of concern in the united states with high rates of use being reported among college students. A study conducted in the year 2008 indicated that about 19.6% of college students had used the prescription drugs non medically at a certain point in their life while about 15.6% had used this prescription drugs in the previous year (Simons et al., 2005). Another study found out that one in every five students usually misused the prescriptions before their sophomore year in college. Most of the students who use the prescription reported that they got them mainly from their peers and friend. The nonmedical use of prescription drugs is also strongly related to the use of other drugs such as tobacco, alcohol and other illicit drugs. The use of non-medical prescription results to various effects among the college students; these include, skipping classes, reduced school performance, and academic disengagement.

Factors that contribute to substance use among college students

Peer influence

Peer influence tends to be one of the key factor contributing to substance use among college students. The students who are randomly assigned to roommates who engaged in heavy episodic drinking while in high school have a higher probability of engaging in heavy episodic drinking when they join college. Most college students engage in the use of alcohol and a other drugs to enhance their social interactions in school, however using these substances for this purposes results to addiction (Duncan et al., 2005). The social motive of substance use, for instance, to fit in a particular group tend to start during the first year in college. In most cases for the students to avoid incidences of bullying while in their first year in college they usually opt to join a particular group that uses a certain drug to maintain their status in school. Apart from direct peer influence, the perception of peers substance use tends to be equally influential. Developing the perception that engaging in substance use is normative tends to enhance the risk of maintaining and initiating substances use among college students.

Increased access and initiation of substance use in college.

The first exposure and initiation into substance use usually take place in college. In colleges, the students usually have increased access and exposure to various substances or drugs thus increasing the use of these drugs in collages. The increased access and initiation into substance use such as alcohol makes individuals who used to consume alcohol minimally or did not drink alcohol a tall to increase their alcohol consumption rate. According to research, approximately 40 % to 50% of high school students who did not consume alcohol are likely to start drinking during their first year in college(Duncan et al., 2005). Also, approximately 25% of high school students who had abstained heavy episodic drinking are likely to start engaging in heavy episodic drinking again during their first year in college(Duncan et al., 2005). The easy access of these drugs and increased initiation rates are resulting to enhanced substance use in most schools across the country.

Psychiatric conditions among college students

Psychiatric conditions such as mood, anxiety, and depression among the students are likely to enhance the rate of substance use in colleges. For example, the students who might be experiencing depression in school usually opt to engage in marijuana smoking and heavy episodic drinking to help them calm down. Also, students with panic disorders tend to engage in cigarette smoking. The incoming students with a condition of panic attack are more likely to engage in stimulants, sedative and alcohol use as compared to the students without panic disorders. The schools should, therefore, be vigilant by introducing various health and counseling programs that help the students to relieve or speak out what they are experiencing

Prevention strategies of substances abuse in colleges

To curb the increased incidences of substance use in collages various intervention strategies have to be put in place. These intervention strategies include; first; introduction of educational programs. Collages in the united states should introduce educational programs in school that are aimed at educating the students on the dangers or effects of substances use. For example, enlightening the students on the health effects of alcohol consumption can help them limit the amount of alcohol they take. Engaging them in such a program can also help them make important decisions regarding substance use. Secondly, rules and regulation enforcement. The school administration should create or develop various strict rules and regulations that are aimed at minimizing the rate of drug use in school . for example the school administration can decide to expel any student caught using drugs. Thirdly, introducing counseling and therapy sessions in colleges to assist the students experiencing anxiety, depression and panic attacks. Solving the mental conditions such as depression and anxiety helps to minimize cases of substance use in schools.


In the united states, the issue of substance use has been affecting most college students across the country. The most common drugs that are used by college students include prescription drugs, marijuana, alcohol, and tobacco. A significant portion of college students within the country has been addicted to these substances. There are various factors that usually contribute to substance abuse among college students; these factors include, Peer influence, Increased access, and initiation of substance use in college and Psychiatric conditions among the college students. To minimize the rate of substance abuse, schools have to implement various strategies that include; introduction of educational programs and introducing counseling and therapy sessions in colleges.


Duncan, G. J., Boisjoly, J., Kremer, M., Levy, D. M., & Eccles, J. (2005). Peer effects in drug use and sex among college students. J

Hingson, R. W., Zha, W., & Weitzman, E. R. (2009). The magnitude of and trends in alcohol-related mortality and morbidity among US college students ages 18-24, 1998-2005. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, Supplement, (16), 12-20.

McCabe, S. E., Morales, M., Cranford, J. A., Delva, J., McPherson, M. D., & Boyd, C. J. (2007). Race/ethnicity and gender differences in drug use and abuse among college students. Journal of ethnicity in substance abuse, 6(2), 75-95.

Simons, J. S., Gaher, R. M., Correia, C. J., Hansen, C. L., & Christopher, M. S. (2005). An affective-motivational model of marijuana and alcohol problems among college students. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 19(3), 326.

White, A., & Hingson, R. (2013). The burden of alcohol use: excessive alcohol consumption and related consequences among college students. Alcohol research: current reviews.

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