College Drug Abuse Statistics

Millions of Americans struggle with an addiction to alcohol and/or drugs. Addiction is a disease that affects how chemicals are released in the brain and can produce compulsive behavior and the inability to fight cravings. The most common substances people become addicted to include nicotine, alcohol, prescription drugs, and illegal drugs. Troublingly, a sizable number of these cases involve drug use among college students: Statistics show that substance abuse on college campuses is a serious problem that needs to be addressed.

Alcohol remains the most common form of substance abuse in college students, but drug abuse on college campuses is currently on the rise. This includes marijuana, prescription medications, and illicit drugs. In a 2015 survey on drug abuse in college students, statistics showed that nearly 32% of college students admitted to binge drinking within the past two weeks and 38.4% had been drunk within the past 30 days. Marijuana use has been gradually increasing over the past 20 years, from 3.7% of college students smoking marijuana daily in 1995 to 4.6% in 2015. However, the use of synthetic marijuana has seen a decrease of 80% from 2011 to 2015.

Out of all of the survey data collected on drug use among college students, statistics on cocaine were the most alarming, showing that the drug’s use on campus is back on the rise after dropping steadily for six years between 2007 and 2013. In 2014, cocaine use nearly doubled from the previous year. The number of students who used cocaine increased from 2.7% in 2013 to 4.4% in 2014 and remained steady at 4.3% in 2015.

When it comes to drug abuse in college students, statistics are valuable, but it’s helpful to know the explanations behind the numbers. Students surveyed were asked why they used alcohol or drugs, and they gave several reasons, including not wanting to feel left out; curiosity caused by the freedom of being away from home; new life stresses making them want to use something to relax; peer pressure from fraternities or sororities; and the belief that they aren’t as much fun if they are sober. Another big problem is that drugs and alcohol are readily available on most college campuses.

For a college student, struggling with addiction can affect not just their academic career but their future prospects. That’s why it’s critical that young adults get the help that they need. At BetterAddictionCare, our counselors can match you with the best option for your needs from our national network of treatment centers. We’re committed to helping people get sober, from finding the right addiction treatment facility for you and helping you to get admitted right away to assisting with coordinating transportation and insurance requirements. We’ll also be there for you after treatment, offering a recovery team to help support your success. Calling us is 100% confidential. Don’t let yourself be a college student drug use statistic: Take our assessment and get help now.


  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) –
  2. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) –
  3. Monitoring the Future –
  4. Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) –
  5. National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) –
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