When an individual plans for their college experience, they often imagine extensive social activities, including a fair share of parties. Unfortunately, partying and drug abuse are fairly synonymous these days. According to a 2007 article by USA Today, almost half of the 5.4 million full-time college students in America abuse drugs or alcohol on a monthly basis. While alcohol remains the substance of choice, the abuse of prescription drugs and marijuana has risen dramatically in the last decade, according to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse.
While educating the students themselves in the undesirable effects of drug use can be helpful to some extent, it is not an entirely effective way to resolve the problem of drug abuse on college campuses. “There’s no evidence that bringing a crashed car or beer goggles to campus, or holding a Red Ribbon week works,” says John Clapp, who teaches social work research methods and alcohol and drug prevention at San Diego State University. “Given schools have limited resources, it makes sense to look at these practices and replace them with strategies that work.”
So what are some workable ways to stop drug abuse on college campuses?
1. Provide an involved Academic Affairs office
The Academic Affairs office of a college or university is designed to help promote excellence in academic delivery. With valid interest in the faculty’s academic delivery to the students, the office of Academic Affairs can ensure interesting, engaging lectures that really involve the students in the college classes. More interested students are more likely to stay busy with their studies.
2. Provide an involved Student Affairs office
The Student Affairs office provides services and support for college or university students. It is responsible for ensuring that the physical, emotional and mental challenges of the students are being met. If all of these challenges are indeed being met, it is unlikely that college students would so readily turn to drug abuse.
3. Improve campus security
Campus security that is designed to really investigate, prevent and stop drug abuse and binge drinking will be more effective than campus security that avoids these issues.
4. Provide counseling
Providing career counseling for students can prove invaluable for helping to keep students focused on future goals, and what needs to occur in their college studies in order to reach those goals.
5. Provide psychological services where needed
College students may experience difficult mental or emotional situations. Appropriate psychological services that help them address and resolve these situations can prevent them from turning to alternate “solutions” in the form of drugs and alcohol.
6. Provide health services
Colleges that provide health education and services to students are taking steps towards promoting a healthy student population.
7. Provide athletic activities
Athletic activity is a good way to occupy an individual both physically and mentally. Students who are interested in athletic games may be more likely to pursue a healthy lifestyle than inactive students.
8. Change college environments that encourage partying and drug use
The Greek system can encourage partying and hazing and seems to go hand-in-hand with substance abuse. Disallowing or changing these activities can help reduce the opportunities where substance abuse seems almost normal or expected.
9. Establish firm substance use policies and violation consequences
A college that firmly outlines their policies regarding substance use, as well as the consequences for violating these policies, is publicly asserting its position regarding drug abuse and is less likely to have a large population of drug-abusing students.
10. Ban tobacco and alcohol promotion and use on campus
Disallowing tobacco and alcohol promotion and use on campus establishes the college’s position as an educational facility first and foremost, as opposed to a public social gathering platform.
11. Educate students in how to spot substance abuse in others, and why it’s vital to report suspected or confirmed substance abuse to school faculty
Making the students responsible for the drug-free status of their school can help promote the idea of sobriety on campus.
12. Provide diverse recreational activities
While college students are not in class, they can either be engaged in other fun activities or allow boredom to push them toward possible drug abuse. A diverse selection of recreational activities can keep out-of-class students constructively busy and off drugs.
13. Schedule student classes in such a way to prevent long “down times”
A student who only has college classes on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday has a four-day hiatus between their last class of the week and their first class of the next week. This long down time may cause the student to feel more comfortable about drug abuse in the interim. Scheduling classes in such a way that students experience minimal and short “down time” will keep them busy with their academic responsibilities all week long.
14. Engage students in community drug prevention activities
If college students participate in community activities that discourage drug use, they are educating others in why drug abuse is dangerous and unhealthy and are less likely to turn around and abuse drugs themselves.
15. Cleaning up drug and alcohol abuse in the surrounding community
Even if a college campus has a low incidence of drug and alcohol abuse, students can still be adversely affected by drug and alcohol abuse in the surrounding community. Local law enforcement can therefore help stop drug use on college campuses by ensuring that drugs and alcohol are not readily available in the vicinity of the college.
Assuming drugs and alcohol are part of the college “experience”
It is a mistake to assume that because some healthy, happy, productive adults abused drugs in college and made it through “unscathed”, current college students can safely experiment with drugs and not be the worse for wear. While it may be true that some individuals leave college and stop drinking (or stop binge drinking) or stop drug use, it is yet an irresponsible and cavalier attitude to have towards college drug abuse. Addressing drug abuse as a serious mental and physical health risk is a more responsible attitude, and is more likely to result in drug-free campuses and students.