Treatment professionals are waiting for your call:

(855) 826-4464

College Drug Abuse vs. Addiction

Substance abuse and substance addiction are often used interchangeably. In reality, they’re very different; college students addicted to substances and those who abuse substances have different patterns of use and mental states.

Start the road to recovery

(877) 746-0480

Treatment Center Locator

Understanding Drug Abuse

Understand abuse and addiction is important in understanding your own sobriety. Without clear lines, it is possible that you may be suffering from addiction without your own knowledge.

Whenever someone takes a drug for reasons other than its intended use, it is considered substance abuse.

Use of any illicit drug, such as heroin or methamphetamine, is abuse. There is no threshold of allowability, and consequences may be severe.

Taking prescription drugs, such as Concerta or Xanax, without a proper prescription is also considered abuse. Use of a prescribed drug taken in a manner other than how it was prescribed counts as abuse. For example, people who crush up and snort or inject their prescribed OxyContin are abusing the drug. This kind of abuse can subject the user to potential health risks, legal punishment and college or university-sanctioned consequences.

Defining Alcohol Abuse

Because alcohol is a legal and socially acceptable substance, defining alcohol abuse is a little different than defining abuse for other drugs.

[Alcohol abuse] is a pattern of drinking that results in harm to one’s health, interpersonal relationships, or ability to work.

- Centers for Disease Control

Put simply, if alcohol is coming between a college student and his/her capacity to meet academic, professional or social obligations, it is abuse.

When Abuse Turns into Addiction

Continued abuse of some drugs, including benzodiazepines and painkillers, invariably leads to an addiction. There are 11 criteria for diagnosing a substance use disorder according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Some of these include:

  • Wanting to quit but being unable to
  • Prioritizing drug use over responsibilities
  • Continuing to use drugs despite known consequences
  • Developing a tolerance
  • Not wanting to quit for fear of withdrawal symptoms

Read all 11 criteria for diagnosing an addiction.

Drinking and drug abuse among college students can be downplayed or dismissed as part of the college experience. However, it is during this critical phase of a young person’s life that he or she may become dependent on these substances rather than grow out of use. If you think someone you know is addicted to drugs or alcohol, get in touch with one of our treatment providers.

Scroll to Find Your Insurance

Growing Up and Out of Alcohol Abuse

The most prevalent drug among college students has always been alcohol. Research suggests that 4 out of 5 students drink, and as many as 2 out of 5 binge drink. Despite these high numbers, many of these students graduate and stop drinking as much. Drugs such as marijuana and Adderall often lose their appeal once a student moves on and gets a job, starts a family and feels the responsibilities of adulthood set in. Changes in schedules, locations, relationship status, health and age can all limit how much someone is willing to drink or use drugs.

Although some people grow out of excessive drinking patterns, hundreds if not thousands of college students establish dangerous habits that continue long after graduation. Alcoholism affects millions of people nationwide. Looking the other way when a student has a serious problem, or writing it off as simply “part of the college experience,” can have dire consequences.

Get Help During COVID-19

With just 30 days at a rehab center, you can get clean and sober, start therapy, join a support group, and learn ways to manage your cravings.

College Drug Abuse Statistics

23

Percent

23% of college students surveyed in 2017 reported using an illicit drug in the past month.

12

Percent

12.1% of people aged 18 to 25 reported using Adderall or a similar prescription amphetamine product during 2017.

31

Percent

31.9% of college students reported binge drinking within the past 2 weeks.

Ready to get help?

Don’t waste another second. Enter your number to receive a call
from a treatment center.

Make a Call (855) 826-4464

- OR -

Request a Call
(877) 746-0480

Getting Help for Addiction

Any college student struggling with the pressures of academia is at risk for substance abuse. If you or someone you know is facing an addiction to alcohol, prescription drugs, stimulants or illicit substances, help is out there. Get in touch with a treatment provider today to start your new life.

Paid Advertising

Recovery Unplugged – Harrison House of Northern Virginia

Annandale, VA

Multiple Levels of Care

855-734-4364

Cove Forge Behavioral Health Center

Williamsburg, PA

Multiple Levels of Care

844-225-6578

Banyan Delaware

Milford, DE

Full Spectrum of Care

855-925-2492

White Deer Run

Allenwood, PA

Multiple Levels of Care

877-638-3697

Banyan Philadelphia

Philadelphia, PA

Full Spectrum of Care

855-661-4722

Boca Recovery Center – New Jersey

Galloway, NJ

Full Spectrum of Care

855-628-9076

Huntington Creek Recovery Center

Shickshinny, PA

Multiple Levels of Care

844-892-1288

Right Path Addiction Treatment Centers

Virginia Beach, VA

Multiple Levels of Care

855-982-0704

Clearbrook Treatment Centers

Laurel, PA

Full Spectrum of Care

855-661-4722

Pocono Mountain Recovery Center

Henryville, PA

Multiple Levels of Care

844-589-1547

SOBA New Jersey

New Brunswick, NJ

Multiple Levels of Care

888-341-1174

Bradford Recovery Center

Millerton, PA

Multiple Levels of Care

844-769-9928

Ohio Hospital for Psychiatry

Columbus, OH

Multiple Levels of Care

866-439-6540

Willow Lane Health – Telehealth Addiction Treatment Services

Charlotte, NC

Telehealth

877-648-6250

Rebound Behavioral Health Hospital

Lancaster, SC

Multiple Levels of Care

855-336-7623

Asheville Recovery Center

Asheville, NC

Multiple Levels of Care

877-542-1138