Drug Usage on the Rise Among Students


A new study from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) shows a rise of drug usage among college students.

The NIDA study shows daily marijuana use among college- aged young adults is at its highest since 1980, surpassing cigarette smoking for the first time in 2014.

In 2013, 36 percent of college students said they used marijuana, compared to 30 percent in 2006. In the same year, 35 percent of college students said they binge drink, and the use of amphetamines, such as Adderall and Ritalin, have nearly doubled between the years 2008 and 2013.

Nora Charles, assistant professor at the Department of Psychology at The University of Southern Mississippi, studies drug use and other risky behaviors in adolescents and young adults.

Charles explained why young college students may turn to drugs. People at most risk for drug abuse are those who have a family history of abuse, possess personality traits such as being impulsive and thrill-seeking and are often in stressful environments.

“If you have a lot of friends that are involved with alcohol and drugs, or if you have a lot of stress in your life, increases your chances of using drugs,” Charles said.

For a person to realize a drug problem on their own, it varies depending on the level of drug problems a person has. Usually, people do not believe they have an issue until there is a consequence such as grades slipping or a car accident.

“Generally, if people identify their problem themselves, they have a better likelihood of actually beating it rather than if it’s your mom or your girlfriend telling you that you have a drug problem,” Charles said.

Charles believes the best possible reason for a rise in drug use is easier access to them, particularly prescription drugs.

University Police Department has provided statistics of the number of calls of service and arrests on campus between 2011 and 2015. The nature of arrests varied from being sent to jail, state citations for misdemeanor possession and campus citations.

Campus citations can only be written to faculty, staff and students. Misdemeanor marijuana possession is given out to those caught with under an ounce of marijuana.

There have been 142 calls for service and over 181 arrests between 2011 and 2015. Of these arrests, there was a total of 17 drug-related felonies in regards to having over an ounce of marijuana, possession with intent to sell or a scheduled drug such as cocaine, heroin or LSD.

Chief of UPD Robert Hopkins gave his analysis of the records.

“When I look at this, it shows me that in regards what the officers are seeing, initiating or getting calls for service we’re averaging about normal,” Hopkins said. “Some years we have a number and the next year we have a little less or a little more. There are no high numbers to indicate a growing problem at USM.”