Survey Reveals Prescription Drug Abuse Among College Age Youth Has New Triggers

happy group of young people at a university college

happy group of young people at a university college

Young adults often experience their first taste of adult freedom when they head off to college. Perhaps at no other time in life are so many choices presented as during those brief, college years. A recent study asked young people about the choices they face regarding illicit use of controlled substances. The survey found that prescription drug abuse is a choice many are making.

The 2015 College Prescription Drug Study surveyed nearly 4,000 college undergrads, graduate students and professional studies enrollees from both private and public schools in a handful of states. Students were asked how available prescription drugs were on campus, if they had ever personally misused prescription drugs and, if so, for what purpose.

One interesting finding was that young people who engage in prescription drug abuse, do so for a couple of reasons. Today, young people are more likely to misuse drugs in order to self-medicate or just to help them navigate through newly encountered adult life pressures than those of previous years who did so just for recreation.

Prescription drug abuse on college and university campuses is mainly centered around pain medications. A little over half of those surveyed had misused pain medications to control pain, but nearly as many took them to get high. Over half of those who misused sedatives, took them in order to get sleep. Another 18 percent of students had abused stimulant drugs often with the intention of improving academic performance, though this group was made up of mostly undergraduate students.

If you or a young person you care about is living with prescription drug addiction or abuse, know that we can help. At Family Guidance Center, learning positive ways to manage the triggers that can contribute to substance abuse for a lifetime is part of the overall wellness approach we offer.