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Which illegal substances do college students use most?

On Behalf of | Sep 18, 2023 | Drug Charges |

College students have a reputation for using drugs, alcohol and other substances. This perception is perhaps exaggerated by movies and other forms of media. But it is still a reality for many parents that their teen will go to college and begin to experiment with some of these substances.

It’s not just the use itself that worries parents. It is the fact that this use is often illegal. Most college students are under 21, so they can’t legally drink alcohol. Using alcohol underage and/or unlawful substances could lead to an arrest. The following are the substances students tend to use most often and are, therefore, those that parents need to address with their teens before they head off to school.


First and foremost, alcohol use is quite common among college students. It can lead to binge drinking and sometimes to drunk driving. Most teens use alcohol in social settings, such as a party in a dorm or an apartment complex. Peer pressure is very common when it comes to alcohol, and even teens who have not consumed it before may try it to fit in with a new peer group or simply because they have easier access to it than they have in the past.


Prescription pills are very dangerous and have been used recreationally much more often in recent years. Opioids and painkillers are very common recreational drugs. These substances can produce a euphoric high, but they also lead to addiction and possibly to an overdose.

Study drugs

Finally, stimulants are often viewed as “study drugs” by college students. These include substances like Adderall or Ritalin. They can help with focusing and staying alert. Students who have to cram for a midterm or stay up all night to write a paper may use these drugs with that intention.

What happens after an arrest?

If you’re a parent who has a child heading to college, it’s natural that you are worried about them being arrested for the use of these illegal substances. If that does happen, it’s important to focus on your child’s future and learn about all of the legal defense options that exist. “Learning the hard way” isn’t usually the best option when the whole of a young person’s future is on the line.