Commonly Abused Illicit Drugs on College Campuses


Many people experiment with illicit drugs in college, but what is an illicit drug? “Illicit” is another word for “unlawful” or “illegal.” With drug use, it refers to any drug that is forbidden by the government. It can also refer to the use of legal drugs in illegal ways. For example, taking more medication than prescribed or stealing someone else’s prescription are examples of illicit drug use. 

Illicit drug use is common on college campuses. Most college students are young, and many are away from home for the first time. This combination of youth and freedom can make drug use very tempting. Some drugs are widely available on college campuses, and many of these drugs are highly addictive. 


Alcohol is often used illegally, especially on college campuses. In the United States, alcohol is only legal for adults who have reached age 21. However, although many college students will not reach the legal drinking age until junior or senior year, alcohol is one of the most commonly used drugs on college campuses. 

According to one collection of surveys, more than a third of college students had engaged in binge drinking within the last month of being interviewed. Repeated exposure to alcohol is a key risk factor for addiction, which is why many people develop substance use disorders while in school. 


Like alcohol, marijuana is not always an illicit drug. Some states have legalized its use. However, most states have not yet legalized recreational marijuana. Even so, this drug can still be found across college campuses. 

Marijuana is less addictive than certain other drugs, but it still carries some risk of addiction. That risk is higher for people who use marijuana during their youth, according to marijuana research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Prescription Stimulants 

Prescription stimulants are prescribed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). For people with ADHD, stimulants provide symptom relief by improving focus and motivation. However, for people without ADHD, these drugs can become addictive. 

Some people, including students, abuse prescription stimulants as a way to cope with pressure. In the short term, stimulants may help students meet deadlines by keeping them awake and focused. However, stimulants can also cause harmful side effects, including anxiety, increased heart rate, and high blood pressure. 


Ecstasy (MDMA or “molly”) is a common club drug. It is a type of stimulant, which means that abusing ecstasy produces a similar energy boost as misusing ADHD drugs. 

However, ecstasy is also a hallucinogenic drug. It heightens people’s senses, causing them to experience sights and sounds on a more intense level. Furthermore, ecstasy also creates temporary feelings of trust and camaraderie. Because of all of these factors, ecstasy is a popular drug in places that play music, such as concerts and festivals. 

Ecstasy can be addictive due to its stimulant properties. It also carries the danger of drug tampering. Some ecstasy tablets may contain other drugs, such as fentanyl, which are dangerous and can even be deadly. 

How to Get Addiction Treatment as a College Student 

For many people with substance use disorders, addiction begins in college. Fortunately, college students do have treatment options. If you’re worried that you may have an addiction, talk to a doctor about your concerns. Your college or university may have a health clinic that can help you find options. 

You can also look for drug and alcohol rehab centers that have programs for young adults. At these centers, treatment providers understand the unique pressures and difficulties of today’s college students. 

College is a tumultuous time, but you can get help for your mental health and recover from drug addiction, even if that addiction began on campus.


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