College students face many challenges during the years they are making the transition from teenager to adult. One critical challenge is how to navigate their health and safety, specifically around issues of substance use and misuse, mental health, and violence.
NASPA and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP) are proud of our collaboration to address the critical issues of substance misuse, mental health, and violence. These issues are inextricably linked; and while they are difficult topics to broach, it is important to do so.
Colleges are one of the best places on which to focus our efforts. With more than 17 million college students in the U.S., this is a group we cannot ignore. These young adults will be entering the workforce, if they aren’t there already, becoming parents, and leading our society in just a few short years. By ensuring they understand the implications of alcohol and drug misuse, we are looking to the future – and making a difference.
According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, there has been a steady decline in underage drinking from 2002 to 2013. Yet alcohol still remains the most widely used substance of abuse among youth and young adults aged 12 to 20. There was a significant decline in the level of past month (current) underage alcohol consumption, as well as a drop in underage binge drinking.
- Current underage drinking among those aged 12 to 20 decreased from 28.8 percent in 2002 to 22.7 percent in 2013.
- Current underage binge drinking also declined from 19.3 percent in 2002 to 14.2 percent in 2013. (NSDUH defines binge drinking as having five or more drinks on the same occasion (i.e., at the same time or within a couple of hours of each other) on at least one day in the past 30 days).
Despite this reduction, however, more youth and young adults aged 12 to 20 currently use alcohol (22.7 percent) than use tobacco (16.9 percent) or use illicit drugs (13.6 percent).
According to the Monitoring the Future survey:
- About 6 percent of college students smoke marijuana daily (or near daily).
- About 4 percent used amphetamines in the last 30 days.
- Binge drinking is the most troubling, with about 28-34 percent indulging in the last two-week period.
In working to help college students make good decisions, we know that the faculty and staff they interact with on a daily basis can make a big difference in how these transitions play out.
Student affairs professionals work tirelessly to make campuses safe and healthy places to live and learn, and therefore must address issues of substance misuse, mental health, and violence. They play an important role in helping students navigate the developmental waters of the college years. A quick look at statistics bears this out:
- Vice presidents of student affairs report alcohol is involved with 57 percent of violation of campus policies, 52 percent of violent behavior, and 72 percent of acquaintance rapes. Academically, alcohol is found to be involved in 30 percent of lack of academic success and 23 percent of student attrition.
- Nine of 10 counseling center directors report a steady increase in the number of students arriving on campus that are already on psychiatric medication and two out of every 1,000 students has been hospitalized for psychological reasons.
- While most campuses have designated professional staff to address alcohol and other drug abuse, student mental health, and violence prevention, chief student affairs officers report that resources to implement effective strategies to address these issues are less than adequate.
NASPA recognizes the need for networking, information sharing, training, and support for campus professionals charged with addressing alcohol and other drug abuse, mental health, and violence prevention. We also recognize these issues do not happen in a vacuum. For many years, NASPA has held simultaneous conferences to promote dialogue, collaboration, and integration among the professionals responsible for preventing abuse, harm, and violence and promoting health and wellness.
The speakers at the 2016 NASPA Strategies Conferences: Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Prevention, Mental Health, and Violence Prevention will address the integration of these issues, effective strategies, and why collaborating to provide comprehensive programs not only creates healthy and safe campuses, but also improves student success and retention.
Clearly, there’s work to be done. The future of prevention in higher education is an integrated approach in which campus professionals cross disciplines and work collaboratively to solve problems.
This post is part of our #CSAM15 series, in partnership with NASPA. Through these posts, we hope to highlight what it means to have a career in Student Affairs with a diverse group of contributors. With a focus on the students, defining Student Affairs, hot topics, and Striving Towards Betterment, there will be a lot to learn about this month! For more information, check out the intro post by John Weng at NASPA. Be sure to read the other posts in this series too!
> BONUS <
Podcast With Clare Cady on Access to Higher Education