Addiction is a serious issue that affects millions of American families every year. It is also an incredibly complex issue that is not easy to understand. Modern studies have shed new light on the problem of addiction, yet it is still widely misunderstood. Why is it that some people fall victim to addiction, while others do not have a problem? Some people can use and abuse drugs and alcohol without any long-term dependency issues. Some are able to conceal their addictions for long periods of time without displaying a dip in work or school or behavior. Others sadly become dependent and addicted to drugs and/or alcohol, in which case can destroy their lives and their families. What we do understand is that addiction can happen to anyone at any time in their lives. Those exposed to addictive behaviors are more likely to develop addictions, while those who are not exposed to those behaviors are less likely to develop an addiction. With that in mind, are first year Indiana college students at risk for addiction? Yes, the simple black and white answer is yes they are. Addiction is more common in those who are at college age. Their exposure to drugs and alcohol and substance abuse is much higher in college than other age levels.

Undergraduate Drinking Behaviors

Nationwide studies have found that a large portion of undergraduate students are engaging in dangerous drinking habits. Alcohol abuse or binge drinking occurs when a student drinks more than four or five drinks in an hour. At that rate the body is unable to metabolize the alcohol, which results in intoxication or drunkenness. Binge drinking is a common practice for college students looking to blow off steam. College is stressful and students find binge drinking as a ‘fun’ way to let loose. This behavior is very dangerous for several obvious reasons. Do to the high level of dangerous alcohol consuming behaviors, coupled with the large number of same aged students, creates an atmosphere for substance abuse. College has become a time and place where students engage in these behaviors and to an extent has become a ‘rite of passage’ for young students.

Transitioning to College

For many, college is the first time they separate ties with their families. Some move to the next town and others across the country. That first taste of freedom is sweet; for some, it can be too sweet to enjoy responsibly. First year Indiana college students have a higher risk for substance abuse and addiction because there are so many others with the same goal in mind; drunk. Any transitional period for growing has higher potential for alcohol abuse, as most see alcohol as a way to unwind or cope with stressful transitions. For those moving from high school to college alcohol is a ‘great’ way to make new friends and find their new place in the world of college. Studies show that those students who do not engage in alcohol at the high school level do so in college and those who have drank in high school look for schools that are more catered to alcohol consumption than others. Party schools are a highly sought after aspect of this secondary education system. The more wild and crazy a school is the more students want to enroll. Although these transitioning students have a higher risk of substance abuse and addiction few schools are prepared with programs to help divert or remedy this behavior. Substance abuse programs should be available at all of these institutions to prepare students for this transition and help them as they move through it.

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