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 impacts not only a student’s academic performance but also their health and family. Drug abuse includes addictions to alcohol and 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.

Health

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the proportion of students being treated for addiction to prescription drugs indicates that "students may be inappropriately self-medicating psychological distress with prescription medications." College students also outnumbered nonstudent alcohol abusers by 16 percent. Though drug and alcohol abuse remains one of the leading causes of death in student populations, students continue to abuse drugs and alcohol. Continued abuse of drugs and alcohol causes increased risk of STDs, drug-related health complications and death.

Academics

Drug abuse has multiple negative effects on a student's academics. From continual absences to poor grades, abusing 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 the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the estimated costs of illicit drug abuse is $193 billion a year. This includes productivity, health care and incarceration losses. This amount is a hefty price to pay for substance abuse.

Familial Substance Abuse

Substance abuse can affect a student even if the student is not the person partaking in the drug. If someone in the student's family is using, that may have a negative effect on the student's performance. According to an American Academy of Pediatrics study, parental substance abuse can create an unhealthy environment for the child, which can result in the child mimicking the parent's behavior and limiting his or her learning potential.

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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."