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Substance Abuse on Campus: Why Teens Try It

December 07, 2011

Teen drug abuse, especially among college students who are experiencing newfound independence on campus, is on the rise and often results in negative behavior at school and subpar grades. As the risk perception associated with a certain drug decreases, use of that drug tends to increase. Here at the DEA, we have seen this trend in action—college-age students often view marijuana use and non-medical use of prescription (Rx) drugs as less harmful than illicit drugs.

Drug abuse among teenagers and young adults is particularly troubling, as the young brain does not fully develop until age 25. For this reason, a young adult’s reasoning may not always be sound, and misusing or abusing drugs further inhibits the decision-making process. This can result in poor choices and impulsive behavior.

The easy access and availability to both illicit and Rx drugs on college campuses plays a major role in substance abuse by young adults. College students are exposed to a variety of substances through friends and classmates, especially to marijuana, alcohol and Rx drugs like Adderall. Students sometimes take Adderall to help them focus and study longer without thinking about the dangers associated with taking this drug without an Rx. Between the easy access and seemingly positive side effects of medications like Adderall, it’s easy for students to forget that the drug can be addictive and the dependence can quickly take over their life.

So what role do parents play when it comes to keeping our kids safe, even when they are miles away from campus? Make sure you continue the conversation about the risks associated with drug use and addiction, even while your children are away at school. It is important to make sure your kids know that you do not approve of drug use and that the extra freedom they are allowed at school does not mean they should be tempted to engage in risky behavior.

If you’re concerned your child is abusing drugs, knowing what to look for is crucial. Signs of drug use include but are not limited to messy appearance, poor hygiene, eye reddening, mood changes, increased fatigue and decreased motivation.

Sometimes just keeping the conversation open and reminding your teen that you wholeheartedly disapprove of drug and alcohol abuse can be an effective deterrent and can help them make the right decision when offered the chance to engage in harmful conduct.

CATEGORIES: Alcohol, Uncategorized

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