College Drug Abuse vs Addiction

It’s important to know the difference between abuse and addiction in order to determine if a student you know needs help.

Understanding Drug Abuse

Whenever someone takes a drug for reasons other than its intended use, it is considered substance abuse.

Use of any illicit drug, such as heroin or methamphetamine, is abuse. There is no threshold of allowability, and consequences may be severe.

Taking prescription drugs, such as Concerta or Xanax, without a proper prescription is also considered abuse. Use of a prescribed drug taken in a manner other than how it was prescribed counts as abuse. For example, people who crush up and snort or inject their prescribed OxyContin are abusing the drug. This kind of abuse can subject the user to potential health risks, legal punishment and college or university-sanctioned consequences.

Get started on the road to recovery.
sidebar_cta_img

Defining Alcohol Abuse

Because alcohol is a legal and socially acceptable substance, defining alcohol abuse is a little different than defining abuse for other drugs.

[Alcohol abuse] is a pattern of drinking that results in harm to one’s health, interpersonal relationships, or ability to work.

- Centers for Disease Control

Put simply, if alcohol is coming between a college student and his/her capacity to meet academic, professional or social obligations, it is abuse.

When Abuse Turns into Addiction

Continued abuse of some drugs, including benzodiazepines and painkillers, invariably leads to an addiction. There are 11 criteria for diagnosing a substance use disorder according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Some of these include:

  • Wanting to quit but being unable to
  • Prioritizing drug use over responsibilities
  • Continuing to use drugs despite known consequences
  • Developing a tolerance
  • Not wanting to quit for fear of withdrawal symptoms

Read all 11 criteria for diagnosing an addiction.

Drinking and drug abuse among college students can be downplayed or dismissed as part of the college experience. However, it is during this critical phase of a young person’s life that he or she may become dependent on these substances rather than grow out of use. If you think someone you know is addicted to drugs or alcohol, get in touch with one of our treatment specialists now.

See how Jerry
overcame his
addiction.
Jerry Lawson sitting in a chair

Growing Up and Out of Alcohol Abuse

The most prevalent drug among college students has always been alcohol. Research suggests that 4 out of 5 students drink, and as many as 2 out of 5 binge drink. Despite these high numbers, many of these students graduate and stop drinking as much. Drugs such as marijuana and Adderall often lose their appeal once a student moves on and gets a job, starts a family and feels the responsibilities of adulthood set in. Changes in schedules, locations, relationship status, health and age can all limit how much someone is willing to drink or use drugs.

Although some people grow out of excessive drinking patterns, hundreds if not thousands of college students establish dangerous habits that continue long after graduation. Alcoholism affects millions of people nationwide. Looking the other way when a student has a serious problem, or writing it off as simply “part of the college experience,” can have dire consequences.

Background image

Ready to get help?

Don’t waste another second. Enter your number to receive a call from a compassionate treatment expert.
Don’t waste another second. Call now to speak with a compassionate treatment expert.

    Getting Help for an Addiction

    Any college student struggling with the pressures of academia is at risk for substance abuse. If you or someone you know is facing an addiction to alcohol, prescription drugs, stimulants or illicit substances, help is out there. Get in touch with an addiction specialist today to start your new life.

    • Sources & Author — Last Edited: September 19, 2017
      • American Psychiatric Association (1994). <em>Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders,</em> Fourth Edition. Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Association.
      • Frances, R. J., & Miller, S.I. (1998) <em>Clinical Textbook of Addictive Disorders</em>, Second Edition. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.
      • Centers for Disease Control. (2013). Alcohol and Public Health - Frequently Asked Questions. Retrieved on August 7, 2014, from: http://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/faqs.htm
      • By AddictionCenter

    Get help today

    Don't go through the process of recovery alone. Get in touch with someone who can help.

      bigstock--139831427
      hogarth-de-la-plante-17754

      Get 24/7 help now. All calls free and confidential.

      (855) 400-5261

      Take control of your life

      Our treatment specialists offer 24/7 assistance.

      • Access to top treatment centers
      • Caring, supportive guidance
      • Financial assistance options

      Call now:

      (855) 400-5261

      OR

      Have us call you:

        Where do calls go?

        Callers will be routed to:

        • Delphi Behavioral Health Group

        A treatment facility paid to have their center promoted here. To learn more about how to be featured in a paid listing, click here.