Drug and Alcohol Rehab

College Students

College Students & Addiction

College is a time of growth, developing independence, and self-discovery. It is also a time when many young adults first venture away from home and run (sometimes very quickly) towards learning what it is like to be their own person. Unfortunately for thousands of new college students, the weight and challenges that come with the obligations of college can quickly become more than they anticipated. Students can soon struggle to balance parental expectations, academic requirements, the desire to foster new friendships, plan for their future, and the need to enjoy all that their new world has to offer. All of these new challenges rapidly evolve into what seems to be a perfect storm of temptation, mental health challenges, and sometimes, poor decisions. 

On many college campuses, alcohol is easy to get, and drugs (both recreation and prescription) are often exchanged with little regard for the potentially dangerous consequences. As mental health challenges amplify, some students may turn to drugs, tobacco, or alcohol as a way to reduce stress, conform to peer expectations and pressures, or boost academic or athletic performance. 

College Student Drug Use Statistics

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health from 2018, up to 55% of full-time college students between the ages of 18 and 22 drank alcohol in the past 20 days. The same survey shows that almost forty-percent report binge drinking in the last month. The National Survey defines binge drinking as “drinking more than four drinks in one sitting (approximately two hours) for women and five drinks in one sitting for men.” The same survey also indicates that another ten percent of college students reported heavy drinking (drinking on five or more days) in the past month. 

The most recent data provided by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism suggests drinking by college students (described as students between ages eighteen and twenty-four) contributes to nearly fifteen hundred student fatalities annually, and college drinking causes hundreds of thousands of reported physical and sexual assault cases. 

Data from another study conducted in 2018 by the Campus Drug Prevention Program as part of Ohio State University suggested that difficulties with drug use and addiction continue to rise on college campuses nationwide. The study polled students from twenty-six institutions. Data from the survey indicated that within the last year:

  • Up to ten percent reported misusing stimulants, sedatives, and pain medications.
  • Thirty-five percent reported using illegal drugs in place of a prescribed drug. (93 percent reported using marijuana, 39 percent reported using cocaine, 37 percent reported using hallucinogens, and 28 percent reported using MDMA as a replacement or substitute drug).
  • College students reported challenges with inhalants, methamphetamine, heroin, and fentanyl as well. 
  • One in 17 college students reports daily use of marijuana.


Drugs of choice among college students

Although trends change from year to year, particular substances remain popular among college students on campuses nationwide. 


College students widely use drugs like Adderall and Ritalin as study aids. Because these drugs have a stimulating effect, students believe using them, even without a prescription, will help them meet academic deadlines. 


As legislation changes across the nation, making marijuana use legal in many states, college students are turning to it as their drug of choice. Because marijuana (cannabis, weed, pot) is now legal to possess under the age of 21, some campuses have seen weed used more than alcohol and other illicit drugs.


Drinking is typically considered socially acceptable and even a “rite of passage” for college students. It is also easy to obtain, and one doesn’t need to look too hard to find access to beer and liquor on campus. As a result, alcohol is frequently connected to substance-related problems on college campuses. 

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Why is College Student Addiction Common?

Elevated rates of college student addiction can likely be attributed to several factors. 

Course load

The difference between high school academic expectations and those placed on first-year college students cannot be understated. Students who found the last year of high school “easy” may quickly find college is dramatically different. More and more students turn to stimulants like Adderall to help them stay awake long enough to complete their assignments by their due dates or study for tests. Typically, these prescription drugs are obtained without a prescription. 


New life stressors such as internships, part-time jobs, coursework demands, and social obligations lead many to turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to cope and reduce anxiety.

Peer pressure

New experiences and new social groups surround college students. Sometimes, these groups consist of others who begin to experiment with performance-enhancing or recreational drugs. When faced with pressure to “fit in” or “go along” with what other group members are doing, young adults may be more likely to experiment with substances as well. 


The first days and weeks of college are full of new experiences. College students quickly want to explore newfound freedoms and want to learn more about life outside of their childhood homes and restrictions. It is not uncommon for self-exploration and curiosity to lead to experimentation with drugs. 

Are There Rehabs for College Students?

Contrary to the beliefs of many, substance abuse among students is closely associated with several adverse outcomes. Typical examples include a higher probability of unemployment after graduation, lower academic performance, increased risk of committing or experiencing sexual assault, increased drop-out rates, and an elevated risk for medical and mental health complications associated with substance addiction and overdose. 

Admitting or acknowledging an unhealthy relationship with substances is a vital first step toward healing. It is also a challenging step for many college students to make. For some, the “everyone is doing it” mentality makes it very difficult to see the potential dangers of substance abuse. Others may worry that no longer using substances could lead to more significant challenges academically and socially. This is especially true when one relies on the effects of stimulants for academic or athletic performance or depends on the calming and relaxing effects of alcohol or marijuana to help them in social settings. 

Choosing a San Fernando Valley rehab for college students can help you take your first steps toward recovery. Getting help at a program specializing in the needs of college students means you will be surrounded by others who understand and share similar challenges. When you have a strong peer support structure, sharing your struggles and victories experienced as part of your recovery journey becomes more manageable. 

No matter what mental health or addiction challenges you are going through, our caring and compassionate team of providers at SoberMind are here to help you understand that it is possible to heal from addiction and achieve life-changing sobriety. The disease of addiction takes away your power to choose a future free from the physical and emotional effects of drug and alcohol addiction. 

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Recovering from an addiction isn’t easy, but it can be done. There are plenty of treatments available that have helped people stop abusing drugs and start living productive lives again.

SoberMind Provides Comprehensive Addiction Treatment for College Students and Young Adults in Southern California

If you are worried about the effects of substance use on your physical and emotional health, or if you are ready to take your first steps towards a healthy, substance-free future, contact us at SoberMind Recovery Center today. 

Our San Fernando Valley addiction treatment programs are backed by evidence and designed to help you in the most effective ways possible.

A member of our admissions team can help you learn more about our comprehensive programs and how you can get help for addiction at a Southern California college student drug rehab.