Drug Abuse among College Students
College students are more likely to have problems with alcohol abuse or with alcoholism rather than with drug abuse or dependence; however, drug abuse is also a problem for many students. Some students are illicit abusers of prescription drugs, while others use illegal drugs: marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, and other drugs. Peer pressure and/or loneliness or other factors may lead college students to substance abuse, although some students had previously abused alcohol and/or drugs in high school. In general, college students have a lower risk of using illicit substances than their peers who do not attend college; for example, college students were much less likely to abuse cocaine than their same-age peers, and only 9.5 percent of college students have ever abused cocaine, compared to 16.5 percent of their same-age peers. Among college students, the next most frequently abused drug after alcohol was marijuana, which was abused by 49.1 percent of college students and 57.8 percent of their same-age peers not in college. However, research from the annual Monitoring the Future study, released in 2005, reveals that college students have higher rates of abuse than their age peers for some specific drugs, such as flunitrazepam, gamma hydroxybutyric acid (GHB), and ketamine. These drugs are all considered date rape drugs, or drugs that are administered to others without their knowledge or permission for nefarious purposes; however, these drugs are sometimes used voluntarily and knowingly by students. In addition, college students are more likely to abuse methylphenidate (Ritalin) than their noncollege peers; about 5 percent of college students abuse methylphenidate compared to less than 2 percent of their peers not attending college. In most cases, males, whether in college or not, were more likely to abuse drugs than females. However, females were slightly more likely to abuse alcohol than males, whether the women were in college or not. In general, male college students consume larger amounts of both alcohol and illicit drugs than female students; for example, in 2004, 6.8 percent of male college students abused marijuana on a daily basis, compared to 3.1 percent of females, according to the Monitoring the Future study. In addition, nearly half (49 percent) of college males reported having five or more drinks in a row over the previous two weeks, versus 38 percent of college females who reported this type of binge drinking behavior. There were also some other gender differences in consumption of marijuana; for example, male college students were more likely to use marijuana than were their noncollege male peers, while female college students were less likely to abuse marijuana than their female peers. In considering the 30-day prevalence of the abuse of illicit drugs, prescribed drugs, and alcohol in 2004 male college students were slightly more likely to abuse illicit drugs (26.1 percent) than their noncollege male peers of the same age (25.3 percent). In contrast, female college students were less likely to abuse illicit substances than noncollege females. Male college students were also more likely than their same-age male peers to abuse marijuana over 30 days, although again, this finding was not true for female college students, who had a lower abuse rate than their noncollege female peers. Surprisingly, when considering the 30-day prevalence, male college students were more likely than the noncollege male peers to abuse both cocaine and crack cocaine. Some college students abuse prescription drugs. Studies have shown that college students were also less likely to use other drugs than their age peers, such as methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA/ecstasy), as well as prescription drugs such as Vicodin, a form of hydrocodone. In addition, college students were much less likely to use crystal methamphetamine ("ice"); or 2.2 percent of the college students abused this drug compared to 8.3...
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