The Basics: Alcohol and Drug Dependence and Abuse
Drinking alcohol has become such an accepted part of socializing and relaxing in our society, often starting in college, that it’s easy to overlook its potential dangers.
Even the “experimental” use of alcohol and drugs can negatively impact your life. Alcohol is a depressant, so if you are struggling with stress or depression, alcohol can make you feel worse. Moreover, substance use can become substance abuse which, in turn, can lead to substance dependence. People who are dependent on alcohol or drugs may build up tolerance, where they need increasing amounts to feel the same effects. They may spend more and more time obtaining and using substances, as well as recovering from their effects.
Alcohol and/or drug use can adversely affect more than academic functioning. You should also consider how usage impacts health, relationships, overall behavior, and potential for substance dependence or abuse.
You Should Know
- Alcohol and drug abuse is drinking or taking drugs despite recurrent social, interpersonal and legal problems resulting from this use. Alcohol or drug dependence is the body’s physical need, or addiction, to a specific agent.
- Prescription drug abuse by young adults is a serious problem. In an annual tracking study, The Partnership for a Drug Free America found that 1 in 5 teens has abused prescription pain medication and the same number reports abusing prescription stimulants and tranquilizers.
- Studies show that about 43% of all students report drinking in a high-risk manner at some point in their college career. Twenty percent of students report drinking in a high-risk manner often.
- Surveys at colleges and universities across the country indicate the percentage of students who used various other drugs within the past year: marijuana (32.3 percent); hallucinogens (7.5 percent); amphetamines (6.5 percent); cocaine (3.7 percent); and designer drugs such as Ecstasy (3.6 percent).
- More than 97,000 college students are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape every year; alcohol is the most common “date-rape drug.”
Signs and Symptoms
- Problems remembering things you say or do
- Repeated interpersonal problems (e.g., arguments)
- Repeated dangerous behaviors (e.g., drinking and driving)
- Repeated legal problems (e.g., DUIs)
- Bloodshot or watery eyes and consistently dilated pupils
- Poor physical coordination
- Frequent injuries or accidents
- Repeated inability to meet obligations (e.g., missing class)
- College and Drinking: Things to Keep in Mind
- Dealing with Setbacks
- Finding Help Off Campus
- Finding Help On Campus
- Getting Help
- Keep Stress in Check
- Medical Leave of Absence
- Mental Health Conditions: Privacy and Telling Others
- Preventing Suicide
- The Basics: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- The Basics: Bipolar Disorder
- The Basics: Alcohol and Drug Dependence and Abuse
- The Basics: Anxiety Disorders
- The Basics: Depression
- The Basics: Eating Disorders
- The Basics: Schizophrenia
- The Basics: Self-Injury (Cutting)
- The Negative Effects of Stress
- Three Important Guidelines for Transitioning with a Diagnosed Condition
- Transferring Treatment to College
- Types of Mental Health Professionals
- What Every Student Needs to Know
- Who Will Struggle with Mental Illness?
- Your First Counseling Appointment: Questions to Ask