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Which Are the Most Widely Used Drugs in American Colleges?

In 2017, there were nearly 15 million public school students and over 5 million private school students in America. With this figure on the rise, more people than ever are receiving a college education.

This offers new students the opportunity to expand their educational and cultural horizons. But studying isn’t the only thing college kids explore.

Nearly 40% of college students in America have experimented with illicit drugs. Some students use these to relax while others use them to improve focus. But all of these can have a negative impact on students’ academic careers and physical and mental well-being.

To understand this better, let’s take a look at some of the most widely used drugs on American campuses.

One of America’s Most Widely Used Drugs Is Alcohol

A lot of people don’t think of alcohol as a drug, but it’s one of the most commonly abused drugs on campus.

Over 60% of college students reported drinking alcohol on at least a monthly basis. More worryingly, 39% of students reported binge drinking regularly.

This is probably because alcohol plays a big role in college social activities. Alcohol is an integral part of any college fraternity initiations. And even in a more relaxed college setting a lot of people use it to feel relaxed when meeting new people.

But alcohol can have an extremely negative impact on students’ lives. In the short term, it impacts their memories and can leave them vulnerable on nights out. Nearly 600,000 students injured themselves while drunk in 2017.

But alcohol can also cause long-term damage, both physically and mentally. Heavy drinking can damage your heart, brain, liver, and pancreas. Alcohol is also a depressant so heavy nights out drinking can leave you feeling depressed and lethargic.

Marijuana in College

Marijuana is also one of the most used drugs in US colleges and most users think of it as a fairly harmless drug. That’s probably why marijuana use among college students is at a 30-year high (if you’ll pardon the pun!)

Students use weed or hash as a way of relaxing and exploring their creativity. Whether they smoke it, eat it or vape it, some students use weed on a daily basis. 

But while marijuana can feel relaxing it can have some disturbing psychological side effects. Studies have shown that prolonged use of marijuana can lead to:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Psychosis or schizophrenia

People who smoke marijuana also increase their chances of suffering from respiratory conditions.

Prescription Pills for Focus

Prescription pills currently pose a big problem on college campuses. They’re easy for students to get their hands on. And a lot of people don’t worry about the addictive nature of prescription pills because they’re technically legal.

College students have managed to find several uses for different prescription medications. Drugs such as Adderall, Ritalin, and Concerta are usually used to treat hyperactivity disorder or ADHD. But for people without ADHD they can actually improve concentration.

This makes them popular on college campuses around exam-time when students want help with studying.

ADHD medications aren’t the only ones doing the rounds. Students are also abusing pain relief medication, such as morphine and fentanyl.

Unlike ADHD meds, these drugs are all about the high that they create. And they’re highly addictive. Anyone who gets hooked on one of these drugs will need an intensive outpatient program to recover.

Selling prescription medication is also a federal crime. It carries a fine of up to $10,000 and 10 years worth of jail time. 

Ecstasy or MDMA

We all know the stereotypical college party scene: dorm or frat parties carrying on into the early hours. They’re a hotbed for experimentation and alcohol alone doesn’t always provide the hit everyone’s looking for.

This is where partying drugs on college campuses come in. Ecstasy, otherwise known as MDMA, is the party drug.

It’s been immortalized in pop music and is famed for its ability to boost energy levels. It also comes with a guaranteed happy high, unlike alcohol. This makes it extremely popular with students who want to keep going all night.

But MDMA can cause blurred vision, nausea, and high body temperature. It’s also extremely dangerous for anyone with a heart condition.

And it can have a serious long-term effect on your mood. This drug plays with three key hormones in the brain – serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. These are responsible for a person’s:

  • Mood
  • Appetite
  • Sex drives
  • Energy levels
  • Sleep cycles
  • Heart rate
  • Blood pressure

As you imagine, messing with one of these things could have a serious effect on your health. Messing with them all at once can be utterly disastrous.

Cocaine on Campus

Cocaine drug use in colleges across America is still going strong, in spite of its hefty price tag!

This stimulant fills anyone who takes it with intense euphoria and confidence. This makes it popular on nights out.

But more and more students are also using the focusing properties of cocaine to help them study. So you might even come across this drug in the library stacks!

A cocaine high is intense and comes with some intense side effects. It raises your heart rate, distorts your vision and causes hallucinations. But highs are usually short-lived and will often leave the user wanting more of the drug almost immediately.

Continuing to use cocaine over a long period of time can lead to a plethora of problems. These include: 

  • Heart damage
  • Brain damage
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease or heart attacks
  • Weight loss
  • Tooth decay
  • Infertility
  • Depression
  • Psychosis
  • Kidney damage
  • Liver damage
  • Exhaustion

It is also highly addictive and is easy to overdose on. But if that isn’t enough to put you off, just having the drug in your possession can lead to jail time and a hefty fine. So it might not be worth the short-term high.

The Bottom Line

Now you know all there is to know about the most widely used drugs on American campuses. If you find yourself turning to substance abuse at college then it’s important to get help sooner rather than later.

And for more updates on campus life, keep browsing our site!