How to Help Prevent Students from Abusing Drug and Alcohol

Posted on 23 February 2016 |

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students alcohol drug abuseStudents should be able to make the most out of their college experience. But, all too often, no matter the campus culture, a college experience may turn into excessive drinking and experimenting with drugs.

To help you tackle this problem on your campus, we’ve put together some information on the latest trends in drug and alcohol use, the signs of substance abuse and strategies you can put in place to keep students safe.

Drug and Alcohol Trends Among College Students

Here are some of the latest statistics on drug and alcohol use among college students from the Addiction Center, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and the National Council on Patient Information and Education.

  • Alcohol has maintained a steady presence on college campuses since the 1970s
  • 42.6 percent of college students have been drunk/intoxicated within the last month
  • An estimated 110,000 students between the ages of 18-24 are arrested every year for an alcohol-related violation, such as public drunkenness or driving under the influence
  • Daily marijuana use has more than tripled in the past two decades among college students with 1.8 percent smoking marijuana daily in 1994, 4.5 percent in 2004, and 5.9 percent in 2014
  • About one in four college students has illegally used prescription drugs
  • By students’ sophomore year in college, about half of their classmates will have been offered the opportunity to abuse a prescription drug
  • An estimated 4.4 percent of college students have used cocaine within the past year

Signs of Substance Abuse

Many college students try drugs and alcohol for the first time in college, which may lead to battles with abuse. The Addiction Center points out these ways to tell if a college student is abusing drugs or alcohol:

  • Decreased interest in classes and extracurricular activities
  • Drastic change in grades or academic performance
  • Shifts in sleeping patterns or fluctuations in weight
  • Time spent in new social circles, especially among those who have a reputation of abuse
  • Withdrawing from friends or behaving in a secretive
  • Unexplained changes in behavior or personality
  • Uncharacteristic mood swings, depression or irritability

Training Helps Prevent Drug and Alcohol Abuse

One of the best ways to help prevent drug and alcohol abuse on your campus is with prevention training. The training should teach students:

  • About the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse such as the connection between alcohol and sexual assault, the risks of overdose, and the consequences of drinking and driving
  • The signs of drug and/or alcohol abuse and what to do if they suspect they or someone they know might have a problem
  • Ways to prevent alcohol abuse such as resources for assistance, alternative ways to have fun, and how students over 21 can drink responsibly

Other Strategies that Can Help

Drug and alcohol prevention training isn’t the only thing you can do. In fact, the Department of Education has identified several additional strategies that have been extremely helpful for other higher education campuses.

  • Forming partnerships with local communities to ensure that alcohol is not served to minors or to intoxicated students
  • Keeping the library and recreational facilities open longer
  • Eliminating alcohol industry support for athletics programs
  • Restricting alcohol promotions and advertising on campus and in campus publications, especially promotions or ads that feature low-cost drinks
  • Providing a wide range of alcohol-free social and recreational activities
  • Disciplining repeat offenders and those who engage in unacceptable behavior associated with substance use
  • Notifying parents when students engage in serious or repeated violations of alcohol or other drug policies or laws


As the research shows, drug and alcohol abuse is a reality that many campuses face. But you can help prevent these negative behaviors and the consequences with drug and alcohol prevention training and many other strategies.

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