The “college experience” has long been associated with drinking and substance use. Young people, many leaving home for their first time, are thrust into new social and academic situations when they start college. Alcohol and substances find use among students looking for friendship and social belonging while seeking a reprieve from academic stress. The openness to experimentation and lack of parental supervision that often accompany college life also contribute to the culture of partying.
Student Drinking and Substance Use by the Numbers
In the United States, more than 49% of all full-time college students drink at least monthly, while over 27% engage in binge drinking on at least a monthly basis. More than a third of all college students use marijuana, and almost 15% have used drugs other than marijuana.
Drinking and substance use have led to academic difficulties for about a quarter of US college students, but the consequences of college party culture reach much farther. An estimated 1,519 college students die from alcohol-related accidents each year, and alcohol has been shown to play a significant role in incidents of violence and sexual assault at colleges.
Meeting Substance Use Recovery Needs on College Campuses
Because drinking and substance use are so common among students, college can be a hostile place for those practicing abstinence. Students who are in recovery or simply wish to avoid alcohol and substances have struggled to fit in and find support. At some colleges, students are punished if they break rules regarding substance use, but they are not offered any recovery or treatment resources.
Thankfully, recent years have brought promising developments to college students seeking recovery. Collegiate recovery programs (CRPs) have begun to appear on campuses across the country. These support programs have existed in one form or another for decades, but the modern concept of the CRP was largely pioneered by the Center for Collegiate Recovery Communities at Texas Tech.
These programs typically provide professional counseling and group therapy, with some now also offering medication for opioid use disorder as the opioid epidemic grows increasingly devastating. As of 2023, roughly 150 colleges and universities have implemented such programs, and the Biden administration recently called for the expansion of CRPs by 25% by the year 2025. While this is promising progress, it still pales in comparison to the thousands of colleges and universities where students don’t have access to recovery resources.
Finding Addiction Recovery Resources on Campus
Life as a student can be tough. Social and academic pressure can be a lot to bear. The American College Health Association reports that roughly 63% of college students struggle with loneliness. Depression and anxiety are also rising in student populations, further increasing risks posed by co-occurring disorders. And with the devastating cost of drugs like fentanyl, there has never been a more important time for students to have access to addiction treatment and other behavioral health services.
For students in search of addiction recovery resources, a good first step is to check with school administration. A directory of CRPs can also be found through the Association of Recovery in Higher Education (collegiaterecovery.org).
If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol addiction or substance use disorder, call Spectrum Health Systems today at 1-877-MyRehab.