Parents of college students often worry about illegal drug use. They know that it happens on college campuses. And they also generally understand how serious the ramifications of an arrest can be and the impact it can have on a young person’s future.
But despite these potential ramifications – fines, jail time, getting expelled from school, having a criminal record – college students continue to bend or break the laws. This often leads parents to simply wonder why.
Common reasons for drug use
College students may use illegal drugs for various reasons, influenced by individual circumstances, peer pressure, curiosity, stress and other factors. Some common reasons why college students may engage in illegal drug use include:
- Peer Influence: The social environment in college can sometimes encourage experimentation with drugs. Peer pressure or the desire to fit in might lead some students to use illegal substances.
- Curiosity and Experimentation: For many young adults, college is a time to have new experiences. Some students may be curious about the effects of drugs and may try them out of curiosity or to seek new sensations.
- Stress and Pressure: College life can be demanding, with work, social activities and academic pressures. Students may use drugs as a way to cope.
- Self-Medication: Students experiencing mental health issues such as anxiety, depression or trauma might turn to drugs as a way to self-medicate and alleviate their emotional pain or distress.
- Availability and Accessibility: Drugs might be more accessible in a college environment, whether through social connections, parties or other means, making it easier for students to experiment with substances than when they were in high school and lived with their parents.
- Peer Acceptance and Socializing: Some students may use drugs as a means of enhancing social experiences, feeling more relaxed or fitting into certain social settings. Alcohol, for instance, is often referred to as a “social lubricant” at parties.
- Boredom or Thrill-Seeking: Seeking excitement or seeking to break the monotony of college life might prompt some students to use drugs to experience a sense of thrill or adventure.
It’s important to note that drug use among college students can result in serious consequences, including academic issues, health problems, legal troubles and addiction. Educational institutions often provide resources such as counseling, support services and substance abuse prevention programs to address these issues and support students in making healthier choices. However, students who are facing criminal charges – and their parents – need to be well aware of their legal defense options, as the state and a young adult’s school may have different responses to certain drug-related conduct.