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Substance Use Pamphlet

By: Neetha Devdas, M.A.

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College is an exciting time for many reasons – you’re learning more than ever in your life, meeting new people, and becoming more independent. You may be away from family for the first time and may finally be able to try out some things on your own. You are also likely to be faced with challenges that may or may not have been known to you before. One such challenge includes making decisions about using alcohol and other drugs.

Almost half of all full-time college students abuse some type of drug, including alcohol, at least once a month. There are many reasons why people use alcohol or other drugs. In the beginning, many students begin using because they are curious or are looking to do something “fun.” Many students also say they drink or use drugs in order to relax, relieve stress, or hide from their problems. However, when people continue to use drugs excessively it is usually because they feel pressure from others or they begin to feel a dependence on a drug. Drug dependency or abuse is apparent when a person feels uncomfortable or anxious when they have not used their drug of choice for a short while or when they try to quit and experience these symptoms.


Substances most commonly used among Texas College students:


Consequences of Alcohol, Prescription Drug, and Illicit Drug Use

Hangovers are the most common immediate consequence of excessive alcohol use, and the one that students think of most commonly. However, there are additional problems of which students are sometimes not aware when using alcohol or illicit drugs. For example, about 23% of students who drank alcohol and 17% of students using illicit drugs, reported regretting something that they did while intoxicated. Many students reported that having temporary memory loss, arguing with friends, having blackouts, and not feeling in control when intoxicated.


Common academic problems related to excessive alcohol and drug use

Approximately one-quarter of students indicated that excessive alcohol and drug use has affected their academic careers. The following are common problems that students have indicated:


Legal issuses related to excessive alcohol and drug use

There are numerous legal issues that arise from students’ use of alcohol.


Personal consequences

In addition to academic and legal issues related to alcohol use, there are also numerous personal consequences. For example, health related problems include weight gain, possible damage to the liver or brain, and risk of alcohol-poisoning. Over half a million students report sustaining some type of injury while under the influence of alcohol, and about 400,000 students admitted to having unprotected sex while intoxicated. Approximately 100,000 could not remember giving consent, which would indicate a sexual assault had occurred.  In the worst case scenarios, but unfortunately not totally uncommon, approximately 1,700 college students die each year from alcohol-related injuries. Many of these students died in car accidents while driving under the influence, being a passenger of someone under the influence, or being the victim involved in an accident with an intoxicated driver.


What to do if you think you have a problem with alcohol, prescription drugs, or illicit drug use

Remember that the most important thing about seeking help is acknowledging that you are struggling with your drinking or drug use. You may have noticed physical changes such as not sleeping well or gaining weight or losing weight. You may have noticed emotional changes such as feeling anxious or depressed. If you are unsure whether or not you have a problem, consider the following guideline:

Use of drugs is a problem if it is causing you physical, mental, social, legal, or financial problems. You may be taking it too much or too often. You may also feel you have been taking certain drugs for too long a period of time. You should also be concerned about your drug use if you feel it is not only you that is being impacted. For example, are you losing friends or is your family concerned about you?

Consider the following checklist when determining if you have a problem:

If you can agree with any of the above statements, it is most likely that you are having an issue with your drug use.
Simple Steps to Help Yourself:

For more information on the use of drugs among college students in the State of Texas, please refer to the “2005 Texas Survey of Substance Use Among College Students: Main Findings Report” by the Texas Department of State Health Services


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sex addicts