Over 20 million young Americans started college this fall. For most of them, the next few years will be a time of intellectual challenges, new friendships and career exploration. But for many, those years will also include a lot of partying and exposure to an abundance of alcohol and drugs.
According to a 2016 report by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration,1.2 million full-time college students drink alcohol, and more than 700,000 use marijuana on an average day. Binge drinking is common. More than a third of surveyed students reported binge drinking (taking five or more drinks in quick succession), according to a 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
Most students learn to navigate the college party circuit without much damage. But for those who arrive at school already struggling with substance abuse, easy access to drugs and alcohol poses a real danger. For them, living on a campus where partying is common and alcohol and drugs are readily available can be daunting.
After dropping out of the University of South Dakota because of substance abuse, Anthony, 25, of South Amboy, N.J., says he wanted to finish college but was reluctant to return to an environment where drugs and alcohol would be easily accessible. “I didn’t want to take the risk,” he says. (Anthony’s full name has been withheld to protect his privacy.)
As many as 30 percent of college students are battling substance-use disorders, says Lisa Laitman, director of the Alcohol & Other Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) at Rutgers University in New Jersey. ”That’s a lot of students who need help,” she says.
Collegiate recovery programs
To meet this need, schools are developing “collegiate recovery programs” (CRPs) that help students stay sober and remain in college. Programs typically include mental