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Friday, September 11, 2015

When Do College Students Use Drugs?

Many college students experiment with drugs and alcohol; this is often considered to be part of the college experience. Young adults away from home for the first have an itch for new experiences, and they are likely to be exposed to a number of substances that were not present in their home town. A new study has found that there is a pattern to when college students will try a drug for the first time, the Associated Press reports. The findings come from Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

The researchers found that college students will most likely try marijuana for the first time in June, whereas November is when they will most likely try prescription stimulants - such as Adderall and Ritalin. The reasons for using different drugs at different times of the year are not that complex.

"For most of the substances, what you're seeing is a summer peak. Young people may have more time on their hands and less supervision," said Brendan Saloner, an addiction researcher at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. "For stimulants, first use seems to peak around finals. There's a lot of anxiety and stress around final exams and a push for students to do as well as they can." 

The research is important for parents who have been of the opinion that first time drug use will occur away from home. While there are always exceptions, students will likely choose the summer months to drink and drug for recreation. During the semester, illicit stimulant use is for gaining an edge on their exams.

“These findings show that college students are vulnerable to substance use at any time – not just when they are away at school,” said SAMHSA Acting Administrator Kana Enomoto. “That means that parents, college counselors, faculty members, staff, mentors, and other concerned people must take every opportunity to talk with college students about the risks of substance use and where they can turn to for help.”

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