Party Culture and Substance Abuse in College Students

By Reyna Estrada
Staff Reporter

Many college students find themselves partying throughout their college years, however too much partying may be cause for concern. Photo courtesy of Pexels.

Partying is often viewed as a part of college culture. It’s become normalized, and it’s almost expected for students to engage in the party scene.

Marquez Wilson, a psychological extern in Roosevelt’s counseling center, said that partying has become heavily associated with college students. “I mean, if you tune into any TV show that is built around college age, the first five seconds, there’s going to be a party. There’s alcohol everywhere,” Wilson said. “And a lot of the risk factors aren’t as apparent in these TV shows or just in our general society.”

While many types of substance use are seen with college students, one of the most common and concerning is alcohol. “Overall, in college students, alcohol is the number one thing that we see. It’s the number one risk factor for death for people under the age of 25,” Wilson said.  

The prevalence of alcohol use among college students is typically higher than other demographics. According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 58 percent of college students between the ages of 18-22 reported drinking alcohol in the past month, compared to 48 percent of other demographics of the same age.

There is a point when the amount of partying or drinking that college students engage in becomes concerning. With the accessibility and newfound freedom, some students may take the partying too far and start to exhibit signs of alcohol abuse disorders. A 2008 study published in “Arch Gen Psychiatry” found that approximately 20 percent of college students present symptoms of alcohol use-based disorders.

When it comes to substance use, Roosevelt University attempts to create policies that deter students from abusing drugs or alcohol. Charity Seaborn, the director of Students Rights and Responsibilities, said that while Roosevelt is not a completely dry campus, there are certain policies for underage students. “…in regards to everyone who is not 21, you know there is a zero tolerance kind of policy if you are consuming alcohol, if you’re purchasing alcohol for other people, if you’re in the presence of alcohol,” she said. Seaborn also mentioned that underage students who do not remove themselves from the situation nor report it could be in violation of the code of conduct.

While the policies do hope to discourage students from partaking in these activities, Seaborn also says that they try to be understanding and fair. “The primary goal of the process is to be developmental and have students reflect on their decision-making and help them get to a point where they make better decisions in the future…” she said.

While Roosevelt University may see its fair share of partying, it is not to the extent of many larger universities. “We’re a smaller campus, majority commuters, so there’s a small student population that lives on campus who are exposed to overnight duty etcetera,” Seaborn said. “I would say it’s rare to see huge party signs, if you will, like large amounts of alcohol.”

Even if substance abuse at Roosevelt University is not at the same level as other colleges, there may be some students struggling and it could be valuable for these students to understand the symptoms of substance abuse disorders. Patti Kimbel, the director of Training for the Doctoral of Psychology Program at Roosevelt University said, “Some of the warning signs of substance abuse include using more of a substance than intending to use or over a longer time period than intended, spending a lot of time in activities to obtain the substance or recover from its effects.”

Kimbell said that some groups may be more vulnerable to substance abuse than others. “There is a genetic component to substance abuse especially for children of alcoholics. It is a heritable condition and therefore anyone with a family member with an addictive disorder will be a greater risk to develop an addictive disorder,” Kimbell said. “There are also higher rates of substance abuse in certain minority communities, those who have experienced trauma or have been sexually assaulted, and in sexual minority communities.”

If an individual is concerned that they or someone they know is struggling with substance abuse, Roosevelt University offers resources to all students. “In the case that you yourself feel you are starting to struggle with substance abuse, if you’re on campus, I would suggest coming to the counseling center,” Wilson said.

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