Common Addictions in College-Age Students (& How To Get Them The Help They Need)

Discover the substances that are most commonly abused by college students, the reasons why they turn to substance use and the help that is available for those abusing substances. Lastly, find some sage advice on how to avoid getting into substance abuse altogether during your college years.

Substances that are commonly abused by college-age students


Even though the legal drinking age in most states is 21 years old, many college students are presented with the opportunity to drink alcohol. Such opportunities tend to be in more private and unsupervised settings such as campus parties, and involve binge drinking with the sole aim of becoming very drunk, which can be very dangerous to the body.


In a similar way to drinking alcohol, college-campuses#:~:text=Research%20has%20shown%20that%20the,daily%20basis%20as%20of%202020.”>using marijuana is also often associated with college students, and is even seen by some as a right of passage. Marijuana is often used to combat the stress of academic studies in college and can also be used by students to deal with issues such as social anxiety. Marijuana is legal in many states now, but that does not mean it’s not an addictive substance and can be damaging to those that abuse it.

Study drugs

In college, there is a huge financial and social pressure to perform and do your best in every class. It makes sense then that study drugs like Ritalin and Adderall are often used by students, even if they do not have a prescription for them. Unfortunately, what many people fail to realize is that study drugs are forms of amphetamine which can make them highly addictive and habit-forming, especially for people that are not prescribed them.


Certain sedatives like college-students”>Xanax and Valium are also frequently abused by college students. Sadly, when mixed with alcohol such sedatives can have serious consequences and slow down the user’s rate of breathing fatally.

Hallucinogenic drugs

In both the general and the college population the use of hallucinogens such as LSD, MDMA, and Psychoblin has increased in recent years. Some people take them in larger quantities to produce a hallucinogenic experience while others micro-dose which is believed to have effects on mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.

Reasons college-age Students abuse substances

There are a variety of different reasons that can work individually or together to increase the risk of substance abuse at college. Perhaps the most pervasive and dangerous one is that substance abuse can seem relatively normalized in a college setting, especially when it comes to legal substances like alcohol and marijuana.

Also for many students college is the first time they are away from their parents for an extended duration. Combining this experience of finding themselves, the temptation to use and abuse substances they would not normally touch can be greater.

Then there is the peer pressure that many students can feel, especially if they are concerned about not being popular or fitting in. This is something that can lead them to try and use substances that they have not before.

college can also be a very stressful time, with lots of homework, deadlines, and scheduling to worry about. On top of this many students can feel lonely when they first get to college as they are away from their regular family and friends, which can lead to them looking for an escape into substance use.

What help is available for college-age students that are abusing drugs?

There are a few different options for treatment if you are a college-age student struggling with substance abuse. It’s also worth noting that most schools have associated primary care physicians where you will be able to access support, and some have additional support such as helplines and counseling on campus that can aid you in a crisis.


One of the most effective types of treatment for substance abuse in college-age kids is to attend a program like the one you will find at, which is geared toward specialists for non-residential or outpatients. Indeed, many college students prefer to attend an outpatient facility because it allows them to continue with their studies while also getting the help and support they need.


Another treatment option that can work well for college students is inpatient services. This is where a patient stays in a residential program, much like in a dorm at college, to receive the help they need. Some of the major benefits of inpatient treatment are that it can provide a more intensive experience for those that need to be away from their regular environment to promote the best recovery results.

Partial Hospital Program

Partial Hospital Programs are when patients begin their treatment in the hospital setting and then progress to an outpatient as their condition improves. This option can work well for college students needing help with substance addiction, especially if they need to have addiction treatment medications administered, they need to detox, or they have a dual diagnosis that requires additional medications.

How can college-age students avoid developing an addiction?

Finally, there are a range of things you can do to help minimize any risk that you could fall into addiction during your college years. In particular, choosing a school that is not known for its party reputation is a good approach. Also centering making friends around and going to shared interest clubs like sports, or artistic pursuits can help make socializing less about drinking and other substance use.

Another way to limit the risks of falling into substance abuse during college is to make sure you are aware of those risks. Educate yourself on the type of substances used, what they do to the body and mind, and the risk that is involved. Then you will be much less likely to try them, even in a moment of weakness.

Last of all, if you want to steer clear of the risks of substance abuse at college it’s very important that you take great care of your mental health. This means getting plenty of rest, exercise, healthy food, and down time and play as well as studying. Of course, this can be a challenge when you haven’t had to manage your own schedule before so be sure to take advantage of tools like planner, and support that your student representative and tutors will be able to offer you on this topic.