When I say “University student” you are probably more likely to imagine a toga-wearing lay-about, surrounded by empty beer cans and pizza boxes, than a studious citizen working hard at his desk. Undeniably, students are renowned for their late night drinking and “party hard” attitude. But on the flip-side of the drinking games and clubbing are the serious issues of binging and substance abuse. With the number of students being admitted into alcohol and drug treatment centres on the increase, its time we took a closer look at just how hard students are partying.
Taking a look at national surveys in the USA, it is obvious that students are drinking more than ever. The number of students drinking frequently has not just increased, but the amount they are drinking has reached significantly high levels. Between 1993 and 2005, the number of university students who ‘binged’ or drank more than 4 drinks in one sitting on a regular basis rose by 16%. Students who binge regularly were also found to be more likely to use illicit drugs such as marijuana, cocaine and heroin. In 2010, 22% of American students were current users of illicit drugs, that’s more than double the number of students who admitted to using in 1993. It is evident that substance abuse among students is a growing national problem. Students are no longer just drinking, more and more students are taking their partying to new, extreme levels.
Being a student is not just about partying, but about long study hours and hard work. Now, students are not just taking drugs to liven up a party but to enhance their academic performance. Adderall, Modafinil and Ritalin, commonly prescribed to treat attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are being used by a high proportion of students to increase concentration during work hours and exams, helping them to achieve their required grades. All these drugs have the potential to become addictive; Adderall in particular is a schedule II drug, with the same risk of addiction as illicit drugs like cocaine.
Continued use of any drug, including alcohol, increases the risk of abuse and addiction. Students, especially, are at a high risk. Students are subjected to large amounts of pressure and stress and young adults are at high risk of suffering from mental conditions such as depression. Individuals tend to excessively drink or use drugs to alleviate these feelings. Students are very susceptible to peer pressure, as a result many have tried an illicit drug at least once, leading to regular use for some. Consuming large amounts of alcohol and drugs is more socially acceptable on a university campus than in most public places, with drinking games and private parties being a regular occurrence. Some students have said that selling drugs to their peers is an easy way to get extra money whilst studying, making drugs more accessible within the university. All this means that, for a university student, one-time use can escalate into a dependency very quickly.
The number of arrests due to property damage, drink-driving, sexual abuse and violent acts has increased within universities and the number of drink and drug related injuries and deaths keeps on rising. Although this is shocking, the long-term effects of substance addiction are just as devastating. Whether using drugs to concentrate or to get that ‘high’ feeling, the body can become dependant on a substance meaning, eventually, an individual will have to take the drug just to function normally. Addiction can mean that without the drug, an individual is depressed, irritable and unable to concentrate. This can be significantly detrimental to academic performance, personal temperament and social life. People have lost their jobs, homes and families through addiction, not to mention the dangerous health effects of excessive drug use.
There are more 18-25 year olds admitted into addiction treatment centres than any other age group. As it stands, governments and university administrators are fostering a generation with a higher risk of future drug and alcohol abuse, addiction and serious health effects than ever before. As students continue to drink and use drugs in excessive amounts, there needs to be more education on the long-term results of their partying.
Stanely Martinson provided this guest contribution; Stanely is extremely interested in drug addiction as well as drug rehab. For more information regarding drug rehabilitation, read this.