Report tracks collegiate substance abuse

To everything there is a season, and that goes for college students and substance abuse too, a new federal report finds. Monthly Variation in Substance Use Initiation Among Full-Time College Students is based on SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health report, an annual survey of 67,500 Americans 12 and older.  Here’s the full report.

Not surprisingly, non-medical use of stimulant medication (i.e. Adderall) hits highs in November, December, and April when students are studying for exams and completing end-of-term projects. Every year, about 137,000 full-time college students begin this kind of drug abuse – that’s 400 on an average day. But that figure hits 585 in November. The report hastens to point out that these stimulants are not associated with better academic performance.

By comparison, alcohol use by college students 21 and over peaks in January. In June, at the start of summer break, underage alcohol initiation peaks, as does first-time marijuana use.

“These findings show that college students are vulnerable to substance use at any time – not just when they are away at school,” said SAMHSA Acting Administrator Kana Enomoto.  “That means that parents, college counselors, faculty members, staff, mentors, and other concerned people must take every opportunity to talk with college students about the risks of substance use and where they can turn to for help.”

Here’s a video to help parents talk to their college-aged kids about drugs and a companion guide.


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