Young people in the U.S. are especially at risk of addiction to opioids or drug abuse, and there are steps student affairs and higher education professionals can take to help prevent addiction on the college campus and support students. A nationally representative survey released in March, 2018 found that 1 in 4 college students meet the standard for substance abuse, and that rates of drug addiction in college students is higher than in the general public.1 Looking at the trends from 2006-2011, studies show that the majority of those abusing Adderall for nonmedical reasons were college aged individuals.2
The use of opioids for nonmedical reasons on college campuses can have devastating consequences on the lives of those involved, and we as representatives of college student educators and student affairs professionals care deeply about the development and health of our students.
It is important that professionals in the field of higher education are prepared to offer resources, advice, and support for students who are struggling with addiction. ACPA College Student Educators-International recognizes that this issue is not an easy one to combat; students may not disclose addiction to professionals, and it can be difficult to support students who do not seem ready for help. However, this work still matters. There are very few folks who are as connected to college students than faculty, staff, and administrators. We must take every opportunity to reinforce our commitment to student success by making our advocacy and support known at all times; not just when a problem arises.
1 Califano, J. A. Wasting the Best and the Brightest: Alcohol and Drug Abuse on College Campuses. (2017, January 24). Center on Addiction. https://www.centeronaddiction.org/newsroom/op-eds/wasting-best-and-brigh...
2 Benham, Barbara. Adderall Misuse Rising Among Young Adults. Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. (2016, February 17).https://www.jhsph.edu/news/news-releases/2016/adderall-misuse-rising-amo...
The following resources can be considered a primer to this issue, but not a substitute for professional training and education:
- The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, Ending the Opioid Crisis: A Practical Guide for State Policymakers
- Association of American Medical Colleges: Responding to the Opioid Epidemic Through Medical Education
- The Ohio State University: Leveraging our expertise to fight the opioid crisis
- Brookings: The Far Reaching Effects of the US Opioid Crisis
- The New York Times: Opioids on the Quad
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