Prescription Drug Abuse By Young Adults
College-aged youths are abusing a number of prescription medications, over-the-counter drugs and illegal drugs, including Adderall, alcohol, cold medicine, OxyContin and medical marijuana.
Substance abuse among young adults is hardly new, but behavior experts believe the progression of prescription drug overdoses, in addition to a spike in binge drinking, borders on alarming for today’s college-age students. Among adults ages 18-25, abuse of prescription drugs is second only to abuse of marijuana, according to the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
Hundreds of thousands more of today’s college students are suffering from prescription drug abuse than was the case in the early 1990s, and the number of students using marijuana daily has more than doubled to approximately 4 percent.
According to a Columbia University study, almost half of full-time college students binge drink or abuse prescription drugs, and almost a quarter of those college students meet the medical definition of having a problem with substance abuse or a dependence. That is three times the rate of the general population.
Substance abuse is defined as a pattern of drug use leading to significant problems or distress, while substance dependence is defined as continued use of drugs or alcohol, even when significant problems related to use have developed.