Substance Abuse in African American College Students

Topics: Drug addiction, Historically black colleges and universities, African American Pages: 12 (3671 words) Published: January 28, 2007

This paper looks at substance abuse as it relates to African American college students. Some of the factors under consideration are the causes and ramifications of substance abuse. The growing problem of substance abuse has not gone unnoticed by respective college administrations and this paper also looks at what colleges and universities are doing to educate students on and prevent substance abuse. The primary theme of the paper will be the messages about substance abuse that are available to students on black college campuses and to residents in the District of Columbia. All in all, this paper addresses every major aspect of substance abuse as it involves African American college students.


What constitutes substance abuse? Defining this term is of paramount importance to understanding the main points of this paper and how they factor in to the overall concept of the paper. It would appear that when it comes to defining what actually constitutes substance abuse, researchers can only agree to disagree. The definition of abuse differs in the case of alcohol use; from excessive consumption to self-identification as a problem drinker. Fortunately with respect to drugs, the defining literature is far less confusing because researchers for the most part agree that any use of illicit drugs constitutes abuse. If there is any disagreement, it is on how to categorize the noticeable levels of abuse. For the sake of simplicity in writing this paper; substance abuse will be regarded as any violation of drug policies and laws that govern student populations and the general population across the nation. African American students, especially female African American students are a growing minority on the college scene and with that growth comes a lot of expectation and evaluation. Combined with preexisting fear of a "bigger world" it is not unusual for the easily swayed to try to fit in anyway they can. Armed with this knowledge colleges and universities long ago, either by design or by initiative fostered the growth of campus programs where young people could meet and socialize, celebrating a theme or shared activities. While some of the programs have proven successful in distracting some students from engaging in anti-social activities that perpetuate or lead to substance abuse, students cannot be distracted all the time. Most youth are exposed to people who abuse substances by the time they complete high school and as such have already had the chance to say no and did not.

Substance Abuse

Substance abuse is nothing new on college campuses. In fact it seems that at one point in time, drug use was synonymous with college attendance. If you went to college, you most likely "inhaled". The National Youth Network (NYN) says that for the most part different substances invoke different symptoms, but by far the most glaring symptom is a radical change in the abuser's behavior. Lack of coordination, memory impairment, loss of focus and slurred speech are some other pronounced indicators of substance abuse. Among some of the most commonly abused substances are; alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, cocaine, opiates, "club drugs" (ecstasy, etc.), stimulants, hallucinogens, inhalants, prescription drugs, and steroids. According to the NYN there are three categories of substance abuse: A. Use: The occasional use of alcohol or other drugs without developing tolerance or withdrawal symptoms when not in use. B. Abuse: The continued use of alcohol or other drugs even while knowing that the continued use is creating problems socially, physically, or psychologically. C. Dependence: At least three of the following factors must be present: a. Substance is taken in larger amounts or over longer periods of time than the person intended.


Substance use and abuse is higher among US college students than among similarly aged young adults in the general population. Considering the chemical reaction that goes on from...

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