People thinking about drugs that college students abuse

Popular Drugs That College Students Abuse

College is when many young adults experiment with drugs, alcohol, and other substances. While some of the drugs that college students abuse can lead to dangerous situations and long-term health issues, others pose only a minimal risk when used in moderation. Understanding the most common drugs used in college and how they can affect you or someone you care about can help you know if you should look for young adult addiction treatment.

It can be tough to know when a college student needs help for addiction since drinking, dabbling in drugs, and partying are typical of the university lifestyle. If you sense something is off with a young person you love, they may struggle with substance abuse. Reach out to Promises Brazos Valley at 979.426.0086 to discuss your concerns and find out how we can help. 

How Likely Is It to Develop Addiction in College?

Substance abuse and addiction risk significantly increase when young adults attend college. They are no longer under the supervision of their parents, and drugs and alcohol are more readily available at parties and other social events on and off campus. This newfound sense of freedom can be exciting, and many teens want to spread their wings and try new things.

For most young people, the alcohol and drugs used in college are only part of a temporary phase. Once they graduate and embark on their new career, substance use usually subsides to make space for the responsibilities of adulthood. However, college drug and alcohol use should not be taken lightly, as some of the drugs that college students abuse can have severe adverse effects. 

Popular Drugs That College Students Abuse

Alcohol is the most widely abused substance by college students since it is often the most prevalent substance at parties. Since students further along in their education may be of legal age to purchase alcohol, it can easily be accessed and shared with others. Besides alcohol, several other drugs are frequently used in college—such as the following.


Adderall is an amphetamine often used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). However, people can also use it recreationally for its energizing effects. It is classified as a Schedule II drug in the United States, meaning it has a high potential for abuse and dependence but also has medical uses.

Adderall promotes:

  • Energy
  • Alertness
  • Focus

Some college students use this drug without a valid prescription to aid their studies. They may use Adderall to help them pull an all-nighter before an important exam or to perk them up for classes after a night out partying. 


Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug among college students. A rigorous workload can be stressful, so some students try to decompress by smoking pot.

Marijuana induces:

  • Euphoria
  • Relaxation
  • Heightened sensory perception

Although marijuana may seem harmless, long-term use can have adverse side effects. In moderation, it can affect your memory, concentration, and coordination. But when used regularly, pot can lead to anxiety, panic attacks, and paranoia.


Painkillers are a popular choice for college students, with oxycodone and codeine being two of the most commonly used. These prescription medications treat pain from surgeries, injuries, or chronic medical conditions. 

Opioid painkillers provide:

  • Euphoria
  • Pain relief
  • Relaxation

Unfortunately, opioid painkillers can be incredibly addictive. They can also lead to long-term damage to your organs, constipation, and a higher risk of depression or anxiety.

Find Addiction Treatment for College Students at Promises Brazos Valley 

With all the resources available today, young people have more access than ever to the most popular drugs used in college. If someone in your life is showing signs of addiction, like excessive use, changes in mood, self-isolation, or a decline in school performance, reach out to Promises Brazos Valley at 979.426.0086 to inquire about young adult addiction treatment.

Scroll to Top