Substance Abuse on College Campuses

Is there a culture of substance abuse on American college campuses? If so, what are the risk factors and what can be done to improve the health and well-being of this population of emerging adults? A 2019 study attempts to unpack these issues. The study identifies a number of risk factors for substance use among college students: low perception of harm, peer influences, college being a “time of transition” in one’s life, poor academic performance, binge drinking, and membership in a fraternity or sorority.

Unfortunately, alcohol and drug use is also a predictor of increased risk for both committing and experiencing sexual assault on college campuses. Binge drinking, as well as involvement in fraternities and sororities, are additional risk factors for experiencing a sexual assault.

There may be a need to reduce the harms of substance use in American colleges, especially considering almost half of college students meet the criteria for at least one substance use disorder, and 39 percent of full-time college students report having engaged in binge drinking over the past month.

Campus-wide substance use prevention interventions may help to curb these patterns. Ohio State’s Student Wellness Center has recently launched one such program. The program, called Beyond Your Own Buzz, focuses on facilitating students’ reframing of their alcohol and drug use. Its goal is not to force students to abstain from using drugs and alcohol, but rather to help individuals establish a healthier relationship with their substance use. With an emphasis on harm reduction, Beyond Your Own Buzz provides a space for students to mutually support one another and set their own substance use goals.

Though meetings have halted with the end of spring semester, they will begin again in the fall. Meetings take place every Thursday from 5:30pm to 6:30pm on Zoom. Here is a link to the Zoom meeting. There is no need to sign up and students are encouraged to drop in as they see fit.

Ohio State also provides mental health services to currently-enrolled students, as well as spouses and partners of students covered by Ohio State student health insurance. For more information, please visit the Counseling and Consultation Service (CCS) website or call 614-292-5766.


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