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The Facts About Drug Abuse and the Impact on a Student's Life

by Stacy Alleyne

Substance abuse is a deadly and costly issue that not only impacts a student’s academic performance, but their health and family as well. Drug abuse includes addictions to alcohol, illicit and prescription drugs. Substance abuse by family members of students also impacts a student’s academic, financial and social life. The effects of drug abuse are far-reaching and substantial.


According to a study done by SAMSA, almost half of the substance abuse treatment admissions involving people ages 18 to 24 in 2009 were to college students. College students also outnumbered non-student alcohol abusers by 16 percent. Although drug and alcohol abuse remains one of the leading causes of death in student populations, and while these statistics are grim, students continue to abuse drugs and alcohol. Continued abuse of drugs and alcohol cause increased risk of STDs, drug-related health complications and death.


Drug abuse has multiple negative effects on a student's academics. From continual absences to poor grades, using illicit drugs and alcohol can cause damaging academic problems that are difficult to recover from. Drug use can also cause mental and cognitive impairments that make it difficult for students to succeed in school.

Emotional Costs

The emotional toll that substance abuse takes on students -- and family members of students with substance abuse problems -- is large. Students who abuse drugs often experience mood swings, depression or have underlying psychological issues. These issues can be compounded by other issues in a student’s life. Often, family members and peers are negatively impacted by the emotional issues of a student who abuses drugs.

Economic Costs

According to NIH, the estimated costs of drug abuse is $524 billion a year. This includes productivity, health care and incarceration losses. This amount is a hefty price to pay for substance abuse.

About the Author

Stacy Alleyne is a certified English teacher with a BA in English and graduate work in English, education, journalism and law. She has written numerous articles and her own dining column for the "Gazette."

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