The annual university freshers’ week tends to be five to seven days of drunkenness and partying. Students drink on campus, off-campus and just about anywhere they can find flowing alcohol. At the conclusion of freshers’ week, students are expected to buckle down and get to work. That is when the pressures of university life really start to kick in.
A question among substance abuse experts is whether the pressures of studying can lead to problems with drugs and alcohol. Common sense suggests they can. However, there may be more to the equation than just study pressures leading an otherwise ‘normal’ student to go down the path of substance abuse. There are also the issues of university culture, peer pressure, and past experience.
As the NHS Choices website points out, student life tends to revolve around alcohol consumption. Kids get together at student unions and local bars to drink and enjoy one another’s company. Weekend parties can take drinking to accelerated levels that some students are unprepared for. And of course, special events and holidays can substantially increase the amount of alcohol consumed in a given period.
Unfortunately, the alcohol-saturated university culture also encourages the use of illicit drugs such as cannabis, crack, and methamphetamine. A student unable to resist the temptation of alcohol may also find it difficult to refuse these more powerful drugs when offered. In light of this, the mob mentality of university culture might even be more of a problem than the pressures of studying.
Within the university culture of alcohol and drug use is the very real problem peer pressure. No student wants to feel as an outsider in the midst of his or her peers, even when the group is engaging in activity the individual would otherwise avoid. It is a fact of life that many students feel it’s necessary to misuse alcohol and drugs in order to fit in.
Furthermore, it is also no secret that kids in many circles believe alcohol and drug use is a rite of passage from youth to adulthood. Students may be told by their peers that they aren’t real men or women until they have participated in the drug and alcohol scene. Such influences can be too overwhelming to avoid for younger students.
Where past experience is concerned, adult society must sincerely take a look at how we are raising our children. If a young person is constantly exposed to alcohol misuse in the home for example, he or she is much more likely to misuse alcohol while in university. Lax attitudes about drink and drugs among parents are one of the biggest influences in a student’s life.
In addition, if students are always pressed to perform their best while growing up, they will take that with them to university. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Nevertheless, if the student believes there is no room for less-than-expected results from parents, the pressure may be too much to bear. Alcohol and drugs could be perceived as the only solution for coping with that pressure.
There are many different kinds of pressures that all contribute to substance abuse in university life. The pressures of studying do play a role, but so do university culture, peer pressure, and past experience. At Addiction Helper, we are here to assist students who find themselves struggling with drugs or alcohol. We offer free advice, evaluations, and referrals to treatment providers. We urge you to call our 24-hour addiction recovery helpline if you are at all concerned about a substance abuse problem. Inform yourself about children and students with addictions in our student addiction guide.