Alcohol and Other Drugs

For many years, alcohol and other drugs have been prevalent on college campuses. Generations of students recall good times involving alcohol and drugs, but others learned about the dangers of these substances the hard way. Whether or not to drink alcohol or take drugs is a highly important and personal decision that you will likely be forced to make while at college. But before you choose to do anything, educate yourself about the risks involved in taking drugs.


Alcohol is the drug of choice on most college campuses, and it remains one of the most difficult issues colleges must face. Many college students feel that drinking alcohol is a rite of passage and that restrictions against it are unjust or unnecessary. However, alcohol is connected to more student problems than any other single factor. Students who drink alcohol irresponsibly often find themselves in dangerous situations or in trouble with law enforcement, get lower grades in classes, and experience poor relationships with peers and family.

Some students drink alcohol responsibly and successfully at college, rarely experiencing any of the negative consequences. These students typically drink smaller quantities and less frequently than their peers. They also never drink on an empty stomach and know how much they can drink before getting sick or even intoxicated. These students tend to be more successful on all fronts. Unfortunately, other college students don't drink responsibly. The goal among many students is to become drunk as quickly as possible. While in this state, these students feel that they are funnier, stronger, and more popular than when they are sober. In truth, they usually seem ridiculous or prove dangerous to the other students at a party.

A frightening danger of alcohol use is the amount of time it takes the body to process alcohol. In general, one beer, a glass of wine, and a one-ounce shot of liquor each contain the same amount of alcohol. It will take your body approximately one hour to process one ounce of alcohol. So, it is a good idea to limit yourself to one drink per hour, as long as you don't drink for hours on end. However, it's important to keep in mind that different drinks are usually consumed at different paces. While a beer is sipped over time, a shot is usually consumed all at once. Four shots in one hour will be more difficult for your body to manage than four beers in four hours.

You and your roommate should discuss alcohol and drugs thoroughly. If one roommate is constantly sneaking alcohol into the room, the other is made just as vulnerable to punishment. And if one roommate is constantly coming home drunk and making a mess in the room, the other suffers. Be sure to speak honestly with your roommate about these issues as soon as possible.

Your weight and body fat also affect how your body processes alcohol. Heavier people can usually drink more without feeling the effects of alcohol. However, a person with high body fat will feel the effects of alcohol more quickly than a person of similar body type who has less body fat. For example, a 200-pound couch potato will feel the effects of alcohol sooner than a 200-pound linebacker.

Students who are new to drinking are at a greater risk in social situations. Peer pressure can lead these students to drink too much and too quickly, resulting in their getting sick or becoming dangerously incapacitated. Also, men, who tend to be larger and thus able to consume more alcohol, may pressure women to keep up drink-for-drink and then take advantage of them. Alcohol is the most widely used drug among sexual predators. To protect yourself, always keep track of how much you're drinking, have a close friend keep an eye on you during a party, and if you feel sick or uncomfortable, stop drinking immediately.

Mixed drinks can be particularly dangerous. Carbonated beverages can get alcohol into your system more quickly than noncarbonated beverages. And drinks that contain several kinds of liquor are particularly potent. A mixed drink with three shots will take about three hours to be processed by your body. Use extra caution when drinking cocktails and other mixed drinks at parties.

Other Drugs

Many other drugs are available on or around most college campuses. Marijuana has been a popular drug among college students for decades. It clearly affects memory, and college students in particular can't afford this damage while taking classes. Also, marijuana is easily detectable, so students who use it run a great risk of being caught by college authorities or law enforcement officials.

Ecstasy is another drug that is used in many clubs and on college campuses as well. Repeated used of ecstasy has been shown to do irreparable damage to the human brain. Cocaine, heroin, and LSD are also found on many college campuses. The dangers of these drugs aren't limited to their physical effects; taking drugs can also cause you to suffer academically, socially, and economically. In addition to being dangerous, these substances are very expensive.

Steroids remain a popular drug choice among a small group of college students. Athletes or students who enjoy working out a lot often take steroids to help their performance. However, steroids can do serious and sometimes irreparable damage to the body, and athletes who are caught using steroids can be excluded from competition, can lose scholarships, and harm their team's reputation.

Drug use can hurt your ability to continue your education or pursue your desired career. Even if you are only caught in possession of drugs once, this offense may come up on a background check when you are applying for jobs years later. A conviction can also cost you eligibility for scholarships, work-study employment, or study-abroad opportunities.

Rohypnol and gamma-hydroxybutyrate acid (GHB) are two insidious drugs that are very popular among sexual predators, and they are indicative of the hidden dangers that exist in college social scenes. Rohypnol and GHB are typically dissolved in a drink and are difficult to detect. The person who consumes these drugs may appear to be okay; however, she is somewhat sedated and may be more open to suggestion. These drugs also create a memory gap for victims. Victims may wake up in a strange place and not remember what happened in the previous few hours. Ketamine, an anesthetic used mostly by veterinarians, and gamma butyrolactone (GBL), an industrial solvent, are also used by predators to disorient and disable their targets. Certain prescription drugs may be used that have similar effects when mixed with alcohol. While you should not let this information frighten you to the point of never leaving your room, knowing about these drugs and their effects will help keep you safe.

These drugs are often found at parties where people don't know each other well. Sexual predators don't want to get to know their victims; they only want to have sex or have control over another person. So, when you're at a party and don't know some of the people there, be extra vigilant. Never accept a drink from someone you don't know or only know casually. Don't leave your drink unattended; if you must, abandon that drink and get a new one. Talk to your friends before going to a party and let them know your intentions for the evening. And make a pact to leave as a group no matter what.

Seeking Help

Students with a drug habit can seek confidential help from the counseling or health education center on campus, and those who want to know more about drugs and their effects can speak with the counseling center, health center, health education center, or security office. Your RA may also know of other resources. The important thing to remember is that you can always seek help for a drug problem. College officials are more concerned with your well-being than getting you in trouble. The earlier you identify and fix a problem with drugs, the more time you'll have to recover and resume your life.

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