Drug and alcohol abuse rises on college campuses

By Sarah Pastor
September 27, 2007

Shane Evans/submitted photo

While no one, especially an aspiring college graduate, likes to admit it, almost three quarters of today’s college students confess to using drugs and alcohol on a weekly, if not daily basis.

According to a recent report released by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA), the percentage of college students who binge drink, categorized as the consumption of five or more servings of alcohol per night for males, and four or more for females, has almost doubled in the past decade to 69 percent and rising.

The latest research suggests that white students are more likely to drink excessively than black students. Those living off campus have a higher probability to engage in binge drinking and other reckless activities than students residing on campus.

The only exception to this generalization is students involved in fraternities, sororities or other forms of Greek life which are associated with more alcohol related incidents than any other student group in 94 percent of universities nationwide.

This substance abuse rate is significantly higher than that of similarly aged individuals who do not attend a college or university.

What was once considered a “social activity” is slowly becoming an epidemic in schools across the nation, with more than half of the student population “drinking with the sole intention of getting drunk.”

While alcohol is still vastly favored over other substances on most campuses, the increase in marijuana and prescription drug abuse has more than tripled in since 2005. The report states that marijuana is now being used three times as often when compared to recent years.

Prescription painkillers like vicodin, percoset and OxyContin have gone from barely known to widely available and prevalent in even the most prestigious universities. Stimulants such as Adderall and Ritilin are also popular among college students. They are often prescribed to treat ADHD and shared recreationally to help with productivity and concentration under stressful time periods, like midterms and finals weeks.

In addition to decreased consciousness, the “cocktail” mix of drugs, marijuana and alcohol consumption in a short period of time puts the user at an extreme risk of total body toxicity, leading to decreased heart rate, organ failure and breathing difficulties. Over time, continued drug and alcohol abuse can deteriorate the liver, heart, and lungs until they are no longer able to function properly.

While students argue that “social” drinking is simply a way to relax and unwind at the end of a stressful week, they often get so loosened up and carefree that they lose their inhibitions and partake in activities never dreamed of in a sober state of mind.

To control binge drinking at Cabrini, the CAP board offers weekly activities on “thirsty Thursdays,” a common drinking night for many college students, to demonstrate that students do not have to get completely intoxicated to have a good time. Fittingly referred to as P.A.R.T.Y. (promoting alcohol responsibility through you), this organization provides events like free movie nights, kickball games, even manicure and pedicure sessions to encourage Cabrini students to spend their Thursday evenings sober and healthy.

Sarah Pastor

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