Addiction in College: Statistics, Signs, & Treatment

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Unfortunately, substance abuse is prevalent among college students. Research shows that nearly half of college students met the criteria for at least one substance use disorder. Beyond this, rates of marijuana use among college students are at an all-time high in the United States, partly as a result of changing laws surrounding the substance.

Addiction in college can adversely impact academic performance, diminish the likelihood of securing post-college employment, and trigger many more adverse outcomes. Read on for further insights into substance abuse within the college student population and guidance on seeking help for yourself or someone you know who is addicted to drugs in college.

Addiction in College Statistics

Here are some current addiction in college students statistics to illustrate the magnitude of the problem:

  • In 2016, roughly 1 in 10 college students reported non-medical use of Adderall in the past 12 months.
  • Data from NIAAA (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism) indicate that 53% of full-time college students ages 18 to 22 consumed alcohol in the previous month.
  • Among college students, MDMA use more than doubled from 2004 to 2016.
  • 9% of full-time college students meet the criteria for an alcohol use disorder (the clinical term for alcohol addiction), according to NIAAA data.
  • The number of people aged 19 to 28 using illicit drugs increased from 32% in 2006 to 44% in 2019, according to Monitoring the Future.
  • Data from NIAAA show that 1,500 college students aged 18 to 24 die each year due to unintentional alcohol-related injuries like car accidents. The same data suggest that 97,000 college students ages 18 to 24 are victims of date rape or alcohol-related sexual assault.
A group of college students on campus, showing those at risk for addiction in college

Signs of Addiction in College

Identifying signs of addiction in college students can streamline early intervention. Common signs may include:

  • Academic decline: Impaired academic performance, missed classes, or neglect of assignments.
  • Changes in behavior: Shifts in behavior, such as increased secrecy, mood swings, or social withdrawal.
  • Physical changes: Observable physical changes like weight loss, fatigue, or neglect of personal hygiene.
  • Financial issues: Frequent requests for money, unexplained expenses, or financial struggles.
  • Social isolation: Withdrawal from social activities, friends, or previously enjoyed hobbies.
  • Legal problems: Involvement in legal issues related to substance use, such as DUI or possession charges.
  • Health problems: Noticeable health issues or a decline in overall well-being.
  • Increased tolerance: Needing more of an addictive substance to deliver the initial effects.
  • Unsuccessful attempts to quit: Trying and failing to moderate or discontinue substance use.
  • Neglect of responsibilities: Neglecting personal, academic, or professional responsibilities due to substance use.

Addiction Rehab Center in College

For college students struggling with addiction, seeking help from a dedicated rehab center is often beneficial. Here are some pointers to help you find addiction rehab in college.


Ensure that the rehab center is accredited and adheres to professional standards of care.


Research the center’s reputation through reviews, testimonials, and recommendations.

Insurance Coverage

Verify whether the rehab center accepts your insurance or offers feasible payment options.

Individualized treatment plans

Look for centers that offer personalized treatment plans tailored to unique needs.

Qualified staff

Verify that the center has qualified and experienced staff, including licensed therapists and medical professionals.

Evidence-based therapies combined with holistic interventions

Choose a facility that blends evidence-based therapies like CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and MET (motivational enhancement therapy) with holistic treatments like yoga, mindfulness, or meditation.

Support for dual diagnosis

If there are co-occurring mental health issues, ensure the center can provide integrated treatment for dual diagnosis.

Family involvement

Explore options that involve family in the treatment process to strengthen the support network.

Aftercare support

Evaluate the availability of aftercare support to facilitate a smooth transition post-rehab.

Taking these factors into account when seeking addiction rehab in college can enhance the chances of a successful and sustainable recovery.

columbus ohio rehab downtown, where addiction treatment is available at Ohio Recovery Centers

Get Treatment for Addiction in College at Ohio Recovery Centers

People use drugs for many reasons at college, but any unchecked substance abuse is liable to develop into an addiction. If you or a college student in your life need help addressing drug addiction or alcoholism, we can help you achieve and maintain sobriety at Ohio Recovery Centers.

We specialize in the intensive outpatient of addictions, enabling you to fulfill your academic and personal commitments without compromising the quality of the care you receive. All Ohio Recovery Centers treatment programs blend holistic, pharmacological, and behavioral interventions for a whole-body approach to healing. Call 877-679-2132 for help combating any type of addiction in Ohio.

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Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been working in the addiction industry for half a decade and has been writing about addiction and substance abuse treatment during that time. He has experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.
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Christopher Glover CDCA

My name is Christopher Glover, and I am from Cincinnati, Ohio. I am currently in school and working to grow in competence to better support our community. As a recovering individual I know the struggles that you or a loved one can go through and that there is help for anything you may be struggling with.

The hardest part is asking for help and we are here as a team to best support you and your decision to start your journey towards a better future. Connect with Chris on LinkedIn

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Amanda Kuchenberg PRS CDCA

I recently joined Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers as a Clinical Case Manager. I am originally from Wisconsin but settled in the Cincinnati area in my early 20s.  My career started in the fashion industry but quickly changed as I searched to find my drive and passion through helping others who struggle with addiction. 

As someone who is also in recovery, I wanted to provide hope, share lived experience, and support others on their journey.  I currently have my Peer Recovery Support Supervision Certification along with my CDCA and plan to continue my education with University of Cincinnati so I can continue to aid in the battle against substance addiction. Connect with Amanda on LinkedIn.

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Patrick McCamley LCDC III

 Patrick McCamley (Clinical Therapist) is a Cincinnati native who has worked in substance use disorder/co-occurring mental health disorder treatment since 2019. Patrick received his bachelors degree in psychology from University of Cincinnati in 2021 and received his LCDC III (Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor) license from the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board in 2022. Patrick has worked in Clinical Operations, Clinical Case Management, and Clinical Therapy throughout his career.

Patrick has tremendous empathy and compassion for the recovery community, being in recovery himself since 2018. Patrick is uniquely qualified to be helpful because of the specific combination of his academic background and his own experience in recovery.

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Bill Zimmerman CDCA

Bill Zimmerman is a Greater Cincinnati Area native who has worked in substance use disorder/co-occurring mental health disorder treatment since 2018. Bill received his (Chemical Dependency Counselor Assistant) license from the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board in 2020.

Bill has worked in Clinical Operations in both support and supervision, and Program facilitating and 12 step recovery support during his career. Bill has a passion for the recovery community, having been in recovery himself since 1982. Connect with Bill on LinkedIn

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Taylor Lilley CDCA, PRS

Growing up in Louisiana with addiction running rampant on both sides of my family. A life away from drugs and alcohol seemed impossible for someone like me. I remember what it was like sitting across from someone thinking there is no way they could ever understand what I was going through.

Sharing my experience offers a credibility and a certain type of trust with clients that only someone who has walked down this road can illustrate. To immerse myself further into the field of addiction, I am currently studying at Cincinnati State for Human and Social Services.  I hope I never forget where I came from, if I can do it, so can you!

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Thomas Hunter LSW

Hello my name is Thomas Hunter. I was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. I am a licensed social worker.In my scope of practice I have worked in the areas of mental health and recovery for thirty years. The clients I have worked with in my career have ranged in age from seven to seventy.

I strive each day to serve my purpose of helping those in need and I believe I do so by utilizing all of my experiences to accomplish my goal of supporting those who desire to establish their sobriety and maintain it in their recovery. Connect with Thomas on LinkedIn.

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Mary D.Porter,LICDC

 My name is Mary D. Porter. I received my Masters of Social Work in 2008 from The University of Cincinnati. I received My Licensed Independent Chemical Dependency Counselor Licensure in 2001. I retired from The Department of Veteran Affairs Medical Center on April 14, 2014. Currently, I am the Associate Clinical Director for The Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers in Cincinnati.. Due to the fourth wave of the Opioid Epidemic in 2019,  I decided to enter back into the workforce to assist the addicted population.

The overdoses were astounding and I wanted to help.  I consider myself  to be an advocate for the addicted population. My compassion, resilience, empathy, wisdom, knowledge, experience and  love I have for this forgotten population goes beyond words. I consider what I do for the addicted population as a calling versus a “career,” because I too was once an “addict and alcoholic.” Today I am 45.5 years alcohol and substance free.

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Ben Lemmon LCDC III

Hello, my name is Ben Lemmon, and I’m the Vice President and Clinical Director at Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers. I’ve been working in the addiction and mental health field since 2013 and decided to enter the field after overcoming my own challenges with addiction.

When I first meet a client, I always explain to them that the reason we are meeting is because they are not capable of obtaining or maintaining sobriety, and my goal is to create a person that can maintain sobriety. I believe a person’s personality is made up of their thoughts, feelings and actions and my job is to help clients identify the thoughts, feelings and actions that have them disconnected from recovery and provide them with the tools to live a healthy and happy life. Connect with Ben on LinkedIn