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Statistics parents should know: College drug and alcohol use

If you are a parent of a college student, you may have various concerns about your child being on his or her own. While you hope everything is going to work out, your child may experience some difficulties at school. One particular worry for parents of college students is alcohol and drug use.

The first step in educating your child and providing assistance if he or she gets in trouble is knowing about the issue. It is important to understand the prevalence of substance use and abuse among college students. The following data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse gives vital insight on this widespread problem.

Alcohol use

According to government findings, heavy alcohol consumption is more prevalent in college students than young adults who do not pursue a higher education. College students binge drink and get drunk more than their non-college peers.

Marijuana use

The access college students have to illegal substances is a growing concern. Daily use of cannabis is at its highest rate since the 1980s. This is a problem among young adults as a whole, not just college students. Nearly 5 percent of college students and nearly 13 percent of non-college young adults report using marijuana daily.


Some prescription medications, such as Adderall and Ritalin, contain amphetamine, which can be helpful. However, there is a higher rate of misuse among college students. For example, nearly 10 percent of college students report using Adderall in the last year in comparison to 6.2 percent of non-college respondents. 

If your son or daughter uses illicit substances, drives while impaired or drinks while underage, he or she may face various legal and academic repercussions. Not only is it possible for your child to deal with criminal proceedings, fines and jail time, but also various disciplinary actions from the university he or she attends.

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