On many college campuses, young adults face pressure to accept that drug use and partying are a part of campus culture. Using prescription painkillers to get high is often viewed as a normal way to socialize, deal with academic stress or emotional pain and self-medicate physical issues. While many college students treat heroin with caution and are not as likely to use the illicit opiate as other age groups, they do not always see the harm in obtaining prescription opiates, such as OxyContin and Vicodin, from their peers.
A 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) report indicates that rates of prescription drug use were highest among young adults ages 18 to 25, with 6.3 percent reporting nonmedical use in the past month. According to a NSDUH study from 2008, about one in four people ages 18 to 20 report nonmedical use of prescription medications at least once in their lives.
Why and How Are College Students Using this Drug?
College age students and other young adults often have motivations for using opiates that are unique to their age group, including the following.
- Recent independence – Young adults who are finally able to experience freedom from parental control or age stipulations are often eager to take advantage of their newfound freedom. Because they are less likely to face discipline from their parents or professors, they are able to more easily allude some of the repercussions of using opiates recreationally.
- Misconceptions about drugs use – While many college students are aware of the consequences of using illicit drugs, including health risks, legal troubles and risks to their futures, many are ill-informed about the consequences of using prescription painkillers.
- Availability – On many college campuses, prescription painkillers are easy to obtain from peers. Some students doctor shop, meaning they go to different doctors to illegally obtain more opiates.
- Partying – Parties are a well-known aspect of campus culture. Using opiates to achieve a euphoric high and experience a sense of wellbeing can lead to snorting and injecting opiates for a more powerful high and making dangerous drug combinations.
- Stress – College students face pressure from parents, society and friends to plan for successful futures while maintaining a healthy social life and establishing independence. They face the challenge of questioning their futures and entering a bleak job market, and academic stress or relationship troubles can pile on top of these issues, leading some students to use opiates to relax and deal with stress.
While students abuse opiates for a variety of reasons, doing so can lead to dangerous reults. Taking a prescription drug that is not prescribed is illegal and can result in serious consequences. Opiate use can also result in negative physical side effects and even fatal respiratory depression.
How Can Friends and Family Help College-Aged Opiate Users?
Friends and family of young adults who use opiates can help by ensuring that users know the risks associated with recreational opiate use. Consulting a treatment center, interventionist, helpline or any kind of treatment professional and finding information about opiate dependence and addiction can help individuals be prepared to talk to opiate users and approach users in a calm and informed way. Treatment programs specially suited for young adults can help college-aged opiate addicts overcome addiction through detox, counseling and therapy.
Help for Opiate Addiction
If you or a loved one is addicted to opiates, call our toll-free helpline to speak with an admissions coordinator about a treatment plan that will work for you. We are available 24 hours a day. Please call today.