The Impact Of Substance Abuse In College

College drug abuse often leads to addiction. Addiction can not only cause significant difficulties for the addicted person, it also has widespread negative consequences for society as a whole.

Drug abuse and addiction cost taxpayers nearly $534 billion in preventable health care, law enforcement, crime, and other expenses every year.

This doesn’t even account for the pain and suffering endured by the addicts and their families, which can’t easily be measured.

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Why Prevention Matters

As with any health issue, prevention of addiction is far more effective and financially beneficial than treatment after the fact. Keeping college students informed of the potential consequences of substance abuse can ensure they are able to make the best decisions for their future.

Prevention Strategies For Substance Abuse In College

Because prevention is so important, it is frequently discussed and researched. Data on success rates can be hard to confirm, so many colleges will take multiple preventative measures to see what works. Some of the most popular forms of college drug abuse prevention include:


Informing students of the negative health effects of drinking and substance abuse can help them make educated decisions regarding their alcohol consumption. After understanding what excessive alcohol can do to their bodies, college students may choose to limit how much they drink.

Law And Rule Enforcement

Many laws already exist to limit underage drinking and dangerous substance abuse. Enforcing the legal drinking age has been one of the most effective ways to reduce alcohol-related problems. Retailers and school administrators can help cut down on the amount of alcohol and substance-related problems by enforcing laws and campus rules consistently.

Restrictions On Bars

One way to reduce excessive and underage drinking is through limiting the proximity of bars and liquor stores to each other and to campus. Studies have shown that alcohol-related incidents are more common in areas where drink specials are highly advertised, especially when advertising targets college students.

Challenging Student Understanding Of Substance Effects

Many college students drink or do drugs because they believe that they will become more sociable or sexually desirable as a result. When they realize that this is not only untrue, but that it may in fact be the opposite of the truth, many college students reduce their use of these substances.

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The Importance Of Social Interaction In Prevention

Perhaps the most underrated method of preventing abuse and addiction is by simply talking about it. College students are especially vulnerable to the academic and social pressures that can spur substance abuse. In many cases, struggling students could benefit greatly from a compassionate friend and a listening ear.

Regardless of whether you are a friend, family member, classmate, neighbor, or acquaintance of someone who is hurting, you can make a difference in their life. Some warning signs that something may be wrong with someone you know include:

  • Isolation from friends
  • Decreased interest in activities that were once enjoyed
  • Sudden spikes in substance abuse
  • Changes in behavior and/or mood
  • Increased alcohol consumption
  • Substance abuse while alone

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Help Someone You Know With An Addiction

If you know a college student who is struggling with an addiction and you’re not sure what to do, there are people ready to help. Contact a treatment provider today for information about rehab and treatment options.

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Jeffrey Juergens

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  • Jeffrey Juergens earned his Bachelor’s and Juris Doctor from the University of Florida. Jeffrey’s desire to help others led him to focus on economic and social development and policy making. After graduation, he decided to pursue his passion of writing and editing. Jeffrey’s mission is to educate and inform the public on addiction issues and help those in need of treatment find the best option for them.

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Reviewed by Certified Addiction Professional

David Hampton

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  • A survivor of addiction himself, David Hampton is a Certified Professional Recovery Coach (CPRC) and a member of the National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC).

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