University is time for new experiences – new friends and relationships, a newfound sense of freedom, and a new environment and lifestyle. While all of these experiences can have a positive impact, they can also lead students to make unhealthy choices. College students are the largest group of drug users nationwide, and are most at risk of addiction. Social pressures, lifestyle changes, and the feeling of independence that comes with being away from home are just a few of the reasons why illegal drug use is so common to university campuses. In this week’s blog, The Medical Station examines the types of drugs that circulate university campuses and effects of these drugs on the lives and health of students.
Common Drugs on Campus and Their Reasons For Use
There are several reasons that drugs are used and often abused on university campuses. With the stress of being away from home and having a large workload, students often turn to drugs that either relax them, help them cope, or help them focus on school.These include marijuana, which has a relaxing effect, and cocaine, which students use to relieve their anxiety.
Students who aim to focus more on their intensive workload frequently use prescription ADHD drugs, particularly Adderall. The drugs are very easy to obtain, as a study from 2010 indicates, as 62% of students with valid prescriptions regularly provided the medication to students who could not obtain a prescription.
First year students in college may be prone to peer pressure, and in an attempt to fit in, they use drugs. Other students may find drugs to be a good social lubricant, or use them to party, believing that drugs add to the experience of social encounters such as going to clubs, attending Greek life events, or even house parties.
The most common drug on college campuses used for these reasons is alcohol. Though not illegal (depending on the age of the person consuming it), alcohol is a very dangerous drug, as it is easily addictive and often abused, causing physical, mental, and social damage. For more information about alcohol abuse on college campuses read our blog post on ailments common to college students.
Other drugs used for social reasons include ‘relaxing’ drugs such as nicotine (cigarettes) and marijuana, but more commonly rely on stimulants such as cocaine, heroine, and ecstasy, although each of these drugs varies in popularity between universities. The schools in the west coast and northern territories tend to have higher rates of marijuana and cocaine use, while east coast schools are more likely to have arrests for heroin and ecstasy.
As a result of an increase in freedom, independence, and new influences and experiences, students often seek unique and fresh experiences through the use of drugs that create an altered state of reality. These drugs are called hallucinogens as they often create hallucinations and altered perception. Hallucinogens include LSD, peyote, and psilocybin (better known as magic mushrooms).