Marijuana Use on College Campuses

Marijuana Use on College Campuses

In recent years, marijuana use has become more widely accepted for certain medicinal purposes. However, just like prescription painkillers and anti-anxiety medications, addiction is a major risk factor that can impact people’s lives, especially during their college years. Marijuana addiction can have several effects on a college student, including the following:

  • A decline in academic performance
  • Increased absenteeism and tardiness
  • Willingness to engage in other risky behaviors
  • Respiratory health issues like bronchitis

A 2013 study by the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs also found that college students who smoke marijuana more than 17 days per month are twice as likely to drop out of college than students who smoke less than one day per month. Dropout rates were also higher for moderate users who smoked between three and 12 times per month.

Marijuana Use Statistics

According to 2003 and 2004 studies by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the highest percentages of past-year marijuana use occurred in 18 to 22 year-olds, the age range of most college students. Young adults aged 20 had the highest rate at 34.4% for 2003, compared to just 12.3% for adults aged 30 to 34. In 2011, USA Today noted new government statistics that show marijuana use is on the rise, including the following:

  • 17.4 million Americans smoked marijuana in 2010 compared to 14.4 million in 2007
  • Drug use among college-aged students rose to 21.5% in 2010 up from 19.6% in 2008
  • Marijuana use among people aged 18 to 25 is the primary reason for the overall rate increase

In 2012, the Prevention Science journal studied marijuana exposure among college students and presented several statistics, including the following:

  • 38% of students had used marijuana prior to college entry
  • 25% first started using marijuana upon attending college
  • 74% who had not previously used were offered marijuana in college
  • 54% of the prior non-users accepted the offer to try marijuana

The study also found that peer use was the leading motivation for marijuana initiation and that active parental involvement was a strong deterrent.

Signs of Marijuana Use in College Students

To know if a loved one is using marijuana, there are several common signs to watch for, including the following:

  • Consistent lack of energy and motivation
  • Skunk-like odors on clothing or in bedroom
  • Eyes are chronically red and dry
  • Always carries a lighter but not cigarettes
  • The bottom of the lighter has black marks from packing pipes
  • Pieces of ripped cardboard, which are used as joint filters
  • Paperclips that are twisted with black tar on the tips
  • Struggles with trains of thought and intelligible conversations
  • Increase in paranoia, anxiety and inappropriate laughter

Talk with the loved if he or she demonstrates these signs and explain the consequences of marijuana abuse. If an addiction has developed, professional treatment is the best option to keep marijuana from potentially derailing a college education.

Treatment for College Students Struggling with Marijuana Abuse

Addiction rehabilitation can provide several potential therapies, including the following:

  • Integrated care for co-occurring mood disorders like depression and anxiety
  • Optional holistic treatments to minimize insomnia and other withdrawal symptoms
  • Behavioral therapies that encourage healthier mental and emotional responses
  • Counseling for marijuana use triggers and motivations such as peer pressure
  • Group therapy to build support structures and exchange experiences

Coincidentally, many of the life skills taught in recovery can also help provide a more positive and productive college experience.

Help Stopping Marijuana Abuse

If you or a loved one struggles with marijuana abuse, speak with one of our admissions coordinators 24 hours a day on our toll-free helpline. We can discuss warning signs, treatment options and even check health insurance policies for benefits. Please call now.