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College Students With Disabilities More Likely To Binge Drink Than Peers

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Data from 2012, one of the years which started seeing a significant spike in the growth of drug and alcohol problems, has been released by researchers which reveals a link between binge drinking behavior and college students with disabilities. Disabilities, which could include mental health conditions, learning disorders like ADD/ADHD, or other disabilities affect the way the brain is able to cognitively function. Feelings of stress and shame are common for people who struggle with their academics and have to take extra measures to stay productive and be successful during college. For disabilities like ADD/ADHD, there is a high amount of impulsivity which can create a higher likelihood toward substance abuse. Coping with academic stress, the stress of being in college with a disability, and any emotional stress which might arise could lead to binge drinking and substance abuse.

Over one thousand students were surveyed from over sixty colleges and universities for the studies. Each student needed to answer questions about their substance use and the use of their peers. Eighty percent of students reported drinking at least once during their experience in college. The numbers show that seventy percent of the students had participated in binge drinking at least once in the last year as it is defined by the NIAAA, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. The NIAAA defines binge drinking as drinking enough alcohol to raise the BAC, the blood alcohol content level, to more than 0.08% in a two hour period. Typically, that is defined as five drinks for males and four drinks for females.  Of the college students who reported binge drinking at least once in the last year, ten percent said they participated in binge drinking on a monthly basis. Nine percent participated in binge drinking two or three times per week and only one percent participated in binge drinking more than five times per week. Ten percent of the students drank daily.

Many students with disabilities take a medication. For example, students with ADD or ADHD often take a stimulant amphetamine to help them with focus and information retention. Medications like stimulant amphetamines are dangerous to mix with alcohol. Cross-substance abuse can further compromise the brain’s ability to function cognitively, while also creating a chemical dependency on drugs and alcohol, as well as prescription medications.

If you are struggling with substance abuse issues in college, you are not alone. Substance abuse and mental health can be treated while you are at school, without having to take time off. Design For Change serves college students near the Lancaster, CA area with specialized treatment programs to support the college experience while confronting substance abuse issues. For information, call us today at (877) 267-3646. Recovery is possible. There is hope.

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