Study says alcohol no. 1 substance for abuse

// Posted

Nearly half of college students cite alcohol as their primary substance of abuse, according to a report from the Center of Behavioral Health Statistics and Qualities released Feb. 7.

Out of college students, 46.6 percent seek treatment for alcohol abuse compared to 30.6 percent of non-college students between the ages of 18-24, according to the report released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

“It is kind of synonymous with the collegiate experience for a lot of our culture,” Yvonne Giovanis, the associate director of the Alcohol and Drug Education Center, said.

Giovanis said since the 1970s and still today, movies have perpetuated drinking and have associated it with the collegiate experience. In addition, she said that parents with lenient attitudes made drinking in college more acceptable for some students.

Looking at universities across the country, alcohol was the most accessible and No. 1 drug of choice for students, Giovanis said.

Amanda Merritt, who attended TCU for a year and a half, said she did not drink at TCU but that drinking in college was related to peer pressure.

In college, participation in fraternities and sororities presented more opportunities to drink, Merritt said. It was not the same when students entered the work world.

Merritt said she could imagine herself being more prone to drinking if she surrounded herself by people who also drank.

Other illicit drugs, like heroin, other opiates, cocaine and methamphetamine, are reported more by non-students as their primary abused substance, according to the government report.

Giovanis said officials did not necessarily expel students from the university because of liquor law violations but that illicit drug use came with greater consequences. She said illicit drug use often prevented students from reaching their collegiate goals.

However, marijuana was reported nearly as equally as alcohol for primary substance abuse between both college students and non-students at about 30 percent, according to the government report.

Several states legalized medicinal marijuana, and this change in attitude may contribute to its increased use, Giovanis said.

Giovanis also said there was a significant national increase in marijuana usage within the past five to 10 years.

The average of TCU students who meet “high-risk drinking” standards is 0.4 percent higher than the national average of 45.9 percent, according to information given by the university’s Alcohol and Drug Education Center.

Consuming five or more drinks on different occasions within two weeks is designated as “high-risk drinking,” Giovanis said.

TCU is below the national average by 2.2 percent for current usage of marijuana, which was defined as use within the past 30 days, and at 1.4 percent lower for the current use of other illegal drugs, according to information provided by the Alcohol and Drug Education Center.

See a problem with this story? Tell us about it.