Should College Campuses Have Programs to Prevent Substance Abuse?

Alcohol and drug prevention programs for college campuses should be the top priority of a university in terms of its students’ mental and physical health. College students between the ages of 18 and 22 are experiencing newfound freedom and independence, and they are trying new activities without parental supervision. Unfortunately, their exposure to drugs and alcohol becomes extremely prominent during college years. 

However, substance abuse prevention programs for college students should be offered to prevent students from participating in dangerous activities. These programs provide students with education on the consequences and outcomes of substance abuse. Implementing alcohol and drug prevention programs for college campuses also can guide students who are struggling to seek professional help. We are here for you if you are struggling with an addiction. Call us at 706-480-8733, and we can support you through this difficult time. Answers and sobriety are just around the corner.


Do not let any students suffer. Read about the prevention opportunities for college campuses now. Contact our experts if you require additional information.


The Numbers Don’t Lie 

Statistically speaking, drug use among college adults is significantly higher than those not in college. Many factors cause these statistics. For example, less authoritative supervision, dormitories, and fraternities/sororities are variables that correlate with higher rates of substance use and misuse. 

For instance, a study in 2018 saw drug trends among college-aged adults. According to the National Institutes of Health study, the drugs in the survery were: 

  • Marijuana
  • Vaping
  • Opioids
  • Adderall 

All of the substances, except opioids, rank college adults at a higher percentage rate of consumption. Also, marijuana is at a historic high for both college and non-college adults. According to the study, college students had “approximately a 7% increase over five-years”. This puts yearly marijuana use by college students to be at 43%, which is the highest these statistics have been in the past 35 years. 

Furthermore, vaping, which is an electronic cigarette, doubled for college-aged students. According to the study, “between 2017 and 2018, nicotine vaping increased in college students from 6.1% to 15.5%. Adderall misuse varied on gender, with rates in men being 14.6% and women at 8.8%”.

However, the “overall Adderall misuse is higher among college students at 11.1% than their non-college peers at 8.1%”. Fortunately, opioids are the outlier, with the misuse of prescription dropping “from 5.4% to 2.7%” in college students. 


Another study in the early 2000s by Ph.D.’s Mary E. Larimer, Jessica M. Cronce, Christine M. Lee, and Jason R. Kilmer was “Brief Intervention in College Settings.” In this scholarly article, they pool together multiple studies and statistics from previous experiments and they conduct their own also. According to the report, the survey determines how many college students involve themselves in alcohol. Specifically, how much they consume and in what time frame. 

Moreover, according to the study, “the pattern of alcohol use among college students is a serious cause for concern because many engage in heavy episodic, or binge drinking, traditionally defined as having five or more drinks in a row. Approximately 39 to 44 percent of college students reported binge drinking at least once in the two weeks before filling out the survey”.  

In addition, Excessive alcohol consumption is hazardous. Furthermore, binge drinking is when an individual drinks five or more drinks in two hours. Specifically, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, for example, a standard drink can be:

  • 12 ounces of a regular beer at 5% alcohol
  • About 9 ounces of malt liquor at 7% alcohol
  • 5 ounces of unfortified wine at 12% alcohol
  • And 1.5 ounces of 80-proof hard liquor at 40% alcohol

Binge drinking any of these forms of alcohol can lead to severe consequences. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “binge drinking is most common among younger adults aged 18–34 years”. Beginning to binge drink at age 18 in college can form unhealthy habits that can severely harm you over time. Colleges should offer Alcohol prevention programs for college students to educate them on the effects and consequences of alcohol.

The Cost of No Prevention 

Many organizations work to prevent substance abuse on college campuses. They state that not doing so comes with a price. Alcohol and drug prevention programs for college campuses are necessary, especially when you look at the consequences that can occur otherwise. Unfortunately, most of the time, college-age adults don’t know the effects drugs and alcohol can have on their bodies over an extended period. However, adding substance abuse prevention programs for college students gives them the tools to be aware of their choices. 

Academic Success and Career 

Among her many titles, Kim Richmond is the Director of the National Center for Campus Public Safety. On the Campus Drug Prevention website under the Drug Enforcement Administration, she talks about the lifelong consequences that alcohol and drug misuse can have on a college student.

Furthermore, according to the article, she said, “There is a high cost for not implementing best drug abuse prevention practices for students, campuses, and the larger community. Drug abuse can have many short- and long-term negative effects including physical and mental health problems, legal consequences, and impairment in many areas of a person’s life, from school to work and interpersonal functioning.” 

However, not implementing alcohol and drug prevention programs for college campuses risks the statistics to keep rising as the students stay uninformed. Additionally, if students continue to misuse drugs and alcohol while attending school, their careers may end up in jeopardy. Kim Richmond states the consequences surrounding academic life while abusing a substance, for instance, could be:

  • Inability to finish course work 
  • Poor overall academic performance
  • Risk of not graduating on time
  • The possibility of being kicked out of school
  • A drug arrest or policy violation may find their career choices limited.
  • Ineligibility for employment in the career path they have chosen due to having a record

Devastating Consequences

The consequences rise if a student is caught in possession of or using a substance. For alcohol, it is even worse if the student is under the legal age of 21. If a school catches a student, the student can have these offenses go on a permanent record. Most employers will not hire those who have a history of drug or alcohol abuse. Likewise, if a school misses the students’ actions, then they can still damage their careers through social media. However, if they post pictures, videos, or tweets involving alcohol or drugs, they might find it challenging to find a job.

Community Risks of No Prevention

Drugs or alcohol don’t just affect the individual. It can affect everyone surrounding them. Not having substance abuse prevention programs at colleges risks the continued behavior of under the influence activities. For example:

  • Car accidents
  • Violence
  • Property damage and crimes 

These activities’ continual patterns can harm the college themselves, giving them a reputation as a ‘party school’ or an unsafe environment. This can then lead to the college having trouble keeping students in school or preventing students from enrolling in their school at all. If incidences surrounding substance abuse continue, more medical services might need to be at the school. This is a good thing from the outside, but it also costs the school more resources. Failing to offer substance abuse prevention programs for college students can directly hurt the college community. Having a substance abuse prevention program can at least lead to the possibility of improvement rather than not having anything to help with these problems.


 “College Student Drug Use: Patterns, Concerns, Consequences, and Interest in Intervention” is a study by Ph.D.’s Rebekka S. Palmer, Thomas J. McMahon, Danielle I. Moreggi, Samuel A. Ball, and M.D. Bruce J. Rounsaville. The study surveys college students on their interactions with drugs and alcohol.

According to the article, “of those students who reported drug use, almost half (44%) had driven a car while on drugs. And those who used prescription stimulants and anxiolytics reported use of other substances and risky driving behaviors”.

Furthermore, driving a car while under the influence of any substance is unsafe. You impair your brain, and you choose to drive, you could get accidentally and injure yourself or another person. However, these prevention programs are needed for college campuses because some students don’t know how badly these substances can impair them. Students may be unaware of the side effects and how it can change them. Drugs change how you behave, how you think, and they blind you to the possible consequences of your actions. In addition, it is vital to provide scientific and educational substance prevention programs for college students to learn about this in a safe environment.

Student Interest in Prevention Programs

It is understandable to wonder why students would be interested in any substance abuse prevention programs. But believe it or not, “in a survey of 262 college students who self-reported lifetime use of an illicit drug, 76% were moderately interested in some form of intervention,” according to the “College Student Drug Use: Patterns, Concerns, Consequences, and Interest in Intervention” study. 

Also, colleges should implement educational programs for students. If students are interested, then there is no harm in having an alcohol or drug education program for college students. It is all in how they present the programs. In the  “College Student Drug Use: Patterns, Concerns, Consequences, and Interest in Intervention” survey, they had students rate what they would be comfortable getting involved. 

According to the study, the question they asked was, “hypothetically, if you were a college student concerned about your use of alcohol, street or prescription drugs, please rate how willing you would be to do the following.” The results show that out of the 11 options, the top two types of interventions they would be comfortable with were  “brief feedback and counseling” and “talk to a trusted teacher, administrator or coach.” With an overall rating of 55% of students showing interest in some intervention prevention program. 

There Can Be Successful Outcomes 

Finally, substance abuse prevention programs for college students on other college campuses have successful student engagement. There are several ways colleges can achieve successful substance abuse prevention programs but what works depends on the students. Through trial and error, individual colleges succeed and see positive results in their overall statistics. Including these prevention programs doesn’t mean that alcohol or drug consumption will completely cease. However, having a program is better than having no program. Educating students on these activities’ risks can only bring positive change to the school and its surrounding community. 

In conclusion, if you may have a problem with drugs or alcohol, acknowledgment is the first step to sobriety. If you or a loved one are struggling with an addiction to alcohol or drugs, call us today at 706-480-8733. We can help guide you to the right recovery center and treatment program for you. We also can answer any questions or concerns you might have. Let’s get your sober life back so you can graduate college healthy and happy. 

Written by Julia Bashaw

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