Daily marijuana use among college-aged young adults is at its highest since 1980, surpassing daily cigarette smoking for the first time in 2014. This section features the most recent Monitoring the Future national survey results on substance use in this age group, including patterns of marijuana use, non-medical use of prescription drugs, cocaine, and newer trends like synthetic drugs, e-cigarettes and hookah use. This section also has other links of interest to educators; dorm supervisors; counselors; clinicians and researchers who work with this age group, as well as the students themselves and their parents.
Learn more about:
Thinking about a career in Addiction Science?
Everything You Wanted to Know About Marijuana
- How does marijuana use affect your brain and body?
- Marijuana Research at NIDA
- NIDA's role in providing marijuana for research
- Health Effects
Changing Marijuana Laws and NIDA Research
Prescription Drugs & Cold Medicines
- What is Prescription Drug Abuse
- DrugFacts: Cough and Cold Medicine Abuse
- Emerging Trends - "Sizzurp", "Purple Drank"
- Prescription Stimulants (Abuse) Health Effects
- Prescription Sedatives, sleeping pills*, or anxiolytics (Abuse) Health Effects
- Prescription Opioids (Abuse) Health Effects
- Over-the-counter Cough/Cold Medicines (Dextromethorphan or DMX) Health Effects
Statistics and Trends
- Monitoring the Future (MTF)
The MTF study measures drug, alcohol, and cigarette use and related attitudes among college students nationwide. Survey participants report their drug use behaviors across three time periods: lifetime, past year, and past month. The annual survey is funded by NIDA and conducted by the University of Michigan.
- Monitoring the Future national survey results on drug use, 1975-2015. Volume II: College students and adults ages 19-50 (PDF, 6MB) [Monitoringthefuture.org]
- Monitoring the Future national survey results on drug use, 1975-2014. Volume II: College students and adults ages 19-50 (PDF, 9MB) [Monitoringthefuture.org]
- Daily marijuana use among U.S. college students highest since 1980 [Monitoringthefuture.org]
- Drugs & Health Blog: Alcohol and Drug Use in College-Aged Young Adults: 2014 Monitoring the Future Survey Results
- Monitoring the Future national survey results on Drug Use, 1975-2013: Volume II, college students and adults ages 19-55 (PDF, 7MB) [Monitoringthefuture.org]
- College students' use of marijuana on the rise, some drugs declining [Monitoringthefuture.org]
- National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH)
SAMHSA’s NSDUH (formerly called the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse [NHSDA]) is the primary source of information on the prevalence, patterns, and consequences of alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drug use and abuse in the general U.S. civilian noninstitutionalized population, age 12 and older.
- The Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS)
The TEDS system includes records for approximately 1.5 million substance abuse treatment admissions annually. While TEDS does not represent all substance abuse treatment activities, it does comprise a significant proportion of all admissions to substance abuse treatment programs and includes those admissions that rely on public funds. Data are reported by sex, age, and race/ethnicity for each of 15 substance abuse categories. TEDS is maintained by the Office of Applied Studies, SAMHSA.
- Partnership for Drug-Free Kids
New Survey: Misuse and Abuse of Prescription Stimulants Becoming Normalized Behavior Among College Students, Young Adults.
Step by Step Treatment Guides
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) - The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, NIDA’s sister institute at the National institutes of Health, has many programs and initiatives related to alcohol use on college campuses and among other young adults. Since this population group often mixes alcohol and other drugs, the links below are invaluable to understanding substance use in this age group.
- NEW: CollegeAIM—the College Alcohol Intervention Matrix
- College Drinking Prevention Site
- Alcohol and You: An Interactive Body
- A Snapshot of Annual High-Risk College Drinking Consequences
- Facts About Alcohol Poisoning
- A Snapshot of Annual High-Risk College Drinking Consequences
- College Fact Sheet for Parents
- Additional College Materials
Additional Articles of Interest
- Maryland Collaborative to Reduce College Drinking and Related Problems. (2016). Sexual assault and alcohol: What the research evidence tells us (PDF, 131KB). College Park, MD: Center on Young Adult Health and Development.
- The Cannabis and College Student Love Affair, Beacon Transcript, By Clayton Meason, September 10, 2016
- College High: Students Are Using More Marijuana, Fewer Opioids, NPR, By Angus Chen, September 9, 2016
- Pot Use Rises on College Campuses, While Other Drug Use Declines: Study, NBC News,By Susan Donaldson James, September 8, 2016
- Colleges use sober dorms to combat opioid epidemic, PBS Newshour, By Teresa Wiltz, Stateline, June 15, 2016
- The academic consequences of marijuana use during college, PubMed (abstract), By Arria AM, Caldeira KM, Bugbee BA, Vincent KB, and O'Grady KE, September 1, 2016
- Precollege Predictors of Incapacitated Rape Among Female Students in Their First Year of College, Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, By Kate B. Carey, Ph.D., Sarah E. Durney, A.B., Robyn L. Shepardson, Ph.D., and Michael P. Carey, Ph.D., November 18, 2015
- UH Moment: Virtual Rreality Cave Aids in Addiction Recovery, YouTube, By UHmultimedia, October 5, 2015
- College Students Have Unprecedented Levels of Stress, Sci-Tech Today, By Carla Rivera, September 30, 2015
- Many college students aren’t warned about substance use risks, Reuters, By Kathryn Doyle, September 28, 2015
Other Resources for College Students
- American College Health Association: Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs/Substance Use
This page is an index of ACHA and other resources on this topic. Resources include association projects, programs, publications, guidelines, and more.
Informs Americans of the economic and social costs of addiction and risky substance use and its impact on their lives; assesses what works in prevention, treatment and disease management; and encourages every individual and institution to take responsibility to reduce these health problems.
- Center for Substance Abuse Research (CESAR)
The Center for Substance Abuse Research (CESAR), at the University of Maryland at College Park, is dedicated to addressing the problems substance abuse creates for individuals, families, and communities.
- The College Life Study at the Center on Young Adult Health and Development
The College Life Study at the Center on Young Adult Health and Development is a NIH funded project at the University of Maryland that aims to understand the health-related behaviors of young adults during a critical life transition.
- College Parents Matter
Tools and scripts to improve communication with your college student.
- Foundation for a Drug-Free World
The Foundation for a Drug-Free World is a nonprofit public benefit corporation that empowers youth and adults with factual information about drugs so they can make informed decisions and live drug-free.
- JED foundation’s U Lifeline
ULifeline is a project of The Jed Foundation, a leading organization working to protect the emotional health of America's college students, and was developed with input from leading experts in mental health and higher education. ULifeline is an anonymous, confidential, online resource center, where college students can be comfortable searching for the information they need and want regarding emotional health.
Shatterproof is a bold, new national organization committed to protecting our children from addiction to alcohol or other drugs and ending the stigma and suffering of those affected by this disease.
- MEDLINEplus Health Information on Drug Abuse - National Library of Medicine, NIH
- www.abovetheinfluence.com - Office of National Drug Control Policy
- healthfinder.gov - U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Past information on many drugs of abuse is available on our Archives site.
Clinical trials are research studies in human volunteers conducted to answer specific health questions. Learn about the NIH-sponsored clinical trials available to you.
- NIDA Clinical Trial Locator - answer a few simple questions and get contact information for Clinical Trials near you.
Other Clinical Trials information sources:
- NIH Clinical Trials and You - NIH site that helps explain about clinical trials and why people participate.
- NIDA Trials at ClinicalTrials.gov - a resource of federally and privately supported clinical trials.
- Clinical Research Studies from the National Drug Abuse Treatment Clinical Trials Network (CTN) - a NIDA coordinated network of research institutions conducting human trials on drug abuse solutions.
- Research Studies at NIDA Intramural Research Program - located in Baltimore, Maryland.
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National Institute on Drug Abuse. College-Age & Young Adults Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/college-age-young-adults
This series of reports simplifies the science of research findings for the educated lay public, legislators, educational groups, and practitioners. The series reports on research findings of national interest.
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