Substance Abuse Prevention Programs for College Students

substance abuse prevention programs for college students

71 percent of college students engage in recreational to binge partying that involves the use of alcohol and drugs, according to reports.

The more college students use drugs and alcohol, the more likely they will encounter negative consequences. Substance abuse leads to skipping classes, lower grades, and even dropping out of school altogether.

In this article, we're taking a closer look at the benefits of substance abuse prevention programs for college students.

Substance abuse can lead to serious consequences for college students.

To avoid these negative consequences, it is important students participate in substance abuse prevention programs. Most, if not all, colleges have some form of prevention education for college students. However, they can vary in effectiveness.

Programs with high effectiveness have specific positive elements that better influence students. These elements, as discussed below, use more than one way to reach students at risk for substance abuse during college.

Start Early

Colleges and universities begin recruiting students when they are in high school. It’s during their junior and senior years of high school students begin meeting with college representatives, taking tours of campuses, taking admissions tests and submitting applications.

It is also during this time colleges and universities can begin a discussion with students on how to prevent drug and alcohol use from interfering with their college goals.

Housing is another important factor in influencing students. Peer pressure is great in college and if a student wants to avoid this unhealthy influence, they may want to consider a sober living college residence on campus. These residences provide a supportive environment, where students can focus without the pressure from peers to explore substance abuse.

Student Orientation

Most colleges and universities offer a Freshman course that specifically addresses how to avoid drinking and using drugs on campus. They also teach the anti-drug policy of the school, which all of them must have.

It is also during these classes students are introduced to the variety of resources available to them that can help with prevention, intervention and even recovery, all on the college campus. Orientation classes should introduce the key people involved in helping them prevent substance abuse.

Counselors, resident advisors, community outreach leaders and even peers who have chosen to take steps in avoiding drug and alcohol use during college.


All colleges provide on-campus counseling to students dealing with mental health or substance abuse issues. Many also provide drug and alcohol prevention programs to teach students the dangers and consequences of using substances during college.

Some programs are online or accessed through a special software program. Some are special classes set up like a traditional class, with a teacher leading it. Other programs can look more like a support group in which education is provided, along with peer support.

Some colleges are working with external agencies who provide superior services such as peer mentoring and monitoring for students who need additional help in preventing drug and alcohol use to hinder their college journey. This allows students to be engaged and accountable.

Social Experiences

To help students avoid using drugs and alcohol, universities must do more than simply educate them on the dangers and give them verbal advice.

Universities and colleges need to provide drug and alcohol-free activities and social options that do not include substance use of any kind. This gives students proof that they can have fun without drinking or getting high.

The sober social outings should be both on-campus and in the community and everywhere else students can benefit from such programs. The more activities you provide, the more they can see college life does not have to include using substances. They can have a long list of things to do when boredom hits, making drinking or getting high less attractive.

Proactive Measures

College students have many reasons for why they drink and use drugs. Some of these include stress reduction, celebrations, rewarding themselves, to cope with a break-up, to take the edge off, peer pressure, to fit in, curiosity and even to self-medicate some other physical or mental ailment.

Some universities already know this and work with local agencies who specialize in counteracting these excuses. They do so by assessing students early on for potential prevention barriers.

Clinical practitioners have the tools and tests needed to determine which students are more likely to engage in using substances. Once determined, a preventive plan can be offered.

The Haven at College provides treatment centers on or near campus that provide professional counseling, supportive treatment, and guidance for students with substance abuse or mental health problems. They do not wait until the student’s depression and anxiety are making it difficult to function.

Many college students report feeling high amounts of stress. So much that they are tempted to drink or get high in a desperate move to reduce their stress. While universities do have programs to help with stress, some are not as effective as they should be. Many times, they wait for the student to reach out for help.

Unfortunately, this means hundreds of other students are missing out on the program due to being introverted or scared to appear weak or embarrassed.

Universities should work with external resources that are experts in reaching out to students and getting them engaged in programs prior to a problem developing. These agencies can also provide group therapy and support groups, outpatient individual counseling, and even case management.

Case management can be provided in several areas of a student’s life, from academic to clinical to social.

Academic case managers help students stay on track with their academic goals. Clinical case managers help students maintain good health by ensuring they get to necessary appointments like doctor appointments, fitness programs and even keeping up with medication.


In conclusion, there are numerous substance abuse prevention programs to implement to help students stay drug-free. The keys to successful programming include having a good variety, working with outside professional agencies with experts in this area, and getting students involved, starting in high school.

And finally, reward the students who succeed at remaining drug and alcohol-free throughout college. They have accomplished what many cannot, and deserve to be recognized.

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