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Do College Freshmen Have an Increased Risk of Addiction?

Do College Freshmen Have an Increased Risk of Addiction?

College freshmen may turn to alcohol or other drugs, often in ready supply on campuses

Although high school seniors often express eagerness to leave home and begin college life, this is still a time of great change and increased stress. Any life transition involves an increased risk of poor coping skills taking root, and students transitioning to college may face additional feelings of financial stress, isolation and inability to manage new responsibilities. They may turn to alcohol or other drugs, often in ready supply on campuses, to achieve temporary feelings of belonging and to mask mental health issues such as anxiety or depression.

College Freshmen and Alcohol Abuse

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), nearly 80% of college students drink and over half of those who drink report binge drinking (“College Drinking,” July 2013). This is not a problem that simply transfers from high school, as The Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse and Violence Prevention shares, “one-fifth of students who did not drink heavily in high school begin to do so once they enter college,” and those who drink before entering college often choose colleges that have a “party school” reputation and escalate their drinking once this new level of education begins (“Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Among First-year College Students,” 2008). They may also begin to use recreational drugs in place of or in addition to drinking, as these substances become more readily available.

Alcohol use and abuse is a considerable problem for campuses, and it puts students’ health and education at risk. Despite growing awareness of the dangers of drinking, college students, freshmen through seniors, continue to over consume or combine drug use and alcohol. NYU’s Department of Applied Psychology shares that peer pressure, “is a major factor in the development of risk-taking behaviors” including all alcohol and drug use (“Peer Pressure and Alcohol Use Amongst College Students,” 2011). Peer pressure does not have to be as direct or obvious as outright coercion, as, “Peers act as an influential model by introducing, providing, or pressuring risky activities.” Some college freshmen from Louisville experience many new situations, are introduced to new activities, behaviors and attitudes and struggle to find independent identities and new friendships. Freshmen may be handed a drink at a party, asked to join friends for a beer or simply see that 80% of those on campus are drinking and infer that the action is socially acceptable, positive and even required to enter a certain social scene or peer group. The commonality, acceptability and levels of alcohol abuse present on campuses means students are at risk for addiction.

Help for College Freshmen

If your child, student or friend in Louisville is having trouble with the transition to college and drinking too much or abusing drugs, do not wait to take action. Get help early to stop the problem before it grows. We are here 24 hours a day to help you find resources for intervention or mediation and to connect you and your loved one to the best treatment and recovery resources.

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