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Alcohol and Other Drugs on College Campuses
Mar 10, 2014 - 10:48:32 AM

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It’s no secret that alcohol and other drugs (AOD) are very common on college campuses. What is interesting is that in addition to the more common use of alcohol among adults ages 18-25, abuse of prescription drugs was second only to the abuse of marijuana, this according to the 2010 National survey on Drug Use and Health. According to another study out of Columbia University, half of full-time college students binge drink or abuse prescription drugs, and almost a quarter of those students meet the medical definition of substance abuse or dependence. This is three times the rate in the general population.

Some of the prescription medications that are being abused by college-aged youths include:

This is known as the “study drug”. It is prescribed for ADHD, however one in five college students admit to using this drug without an ADHD diagnosis. This is because it helps with motivation, focus and concentration. Students find it relatively simple to copy the symptoms of ADHD in front of a doctor, thus getting a prescription for Adderall. Full-time college student ages 18-22 are twice as likely to abuse Adderall as those of the same age not in college. It is highly addictive and can cause low blood pressure, depression, headaches, irritability, dry mouth and rapid mood swings.

In a 2009 study by the National Institutes of Health, 40% of college student drinkers admitted to binge drinking at least once within a two specified two-week period. People aged 18-25 have the highest prevalence of binge drinking with the behavior peaking at 21. Students report drinking and abusing alcohol to fit into the campus community, erase inhibitions, reduce stress or cope with the pain of relationships. According to the NIH, 25% of college students report academic consequences to their drinking including missed classes, falling behind, and poor exam performance. Some of the negative outcomes of alcohol abuse include 13% of students reporting having had unprotected sex. Each year 3.3 million students drive under the influence, 690,000 are assaulted by another student under the influence, 97,000 are victims of alcohol related date rape, and 599,000 sustain alcohol related injuries. This is based on the aged 18-24 cohort and is from the National Institutes of Health.

Cold Medications
This is becoming the fastest group drug problem among college and high school students. In a 2006 national survey, 3.1 million people aged 12-25 reported using a cold medication to get high. The favorites contain dextromethorphan and include Triaminic DM, Coricidin, Tylenol Cold, Robitussin DM and DayQuil and NightQuil. 81% of students aged 12-25 who have abused cold medication are also regular marijuana users, and about 44% are lifetime users of hallucinogens or ecstasy. Side effects include seizures, dizziness, paranoia, slurred speech, brain damage, blurry vision, numbness in fingers and toes, and death.

Marijuana (the do nothing drug) is the second most commonly abused drug for college students. Approximately 46.8% of college students report using marijuana. Nine out of 10 college students using marijuana also are involved in other high risk behaviors such as binge drinking and sex with multiple partners. Side effects of marijuana use include distorted perception, rapid heart-beat, loss of balance and coordination, difficulty with problem solving, decreased reaction time, impaired short term memory, and loss of motivation. Marijuana is also associated with poor academic performance, isolation, participation in criminal acts and a weakened immune system, according to a study by the Harvard School of Public Health. The effects on the lungs of marijuana smokers has yet to be seen, as it is hard to study this until such time that marijuana is legalized. As of 2012, just over 1 million Americans are medical marijuana patients, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Quotation of the Week
"Live in danger. Build your cities on the slopes of Vesuvius."
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

Comments: Trish-blair@redwoods.edu

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