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Survey Finds College Students Who Feel Emotionally Unprepared Have Higher Rate of Substance Abuse

jedfoundationA recent National Harris Poll examined feedback from over 1,500 first-year college students around the country. One of the interesting results was that there was a higher rate of drug and alcohol use by students who said they were emotionally unprepared for college.

The survey was sponsored by the Jed Foundation, the Jordan Porco Foundation and the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. They defined being emotionally prepared as the ability to take care of oneself, adapt to new environments, control negative emotions or behavior and build positive relationships. As the survey showed, students who were more prepared in this way had less problems in their first year.

About 30 percent of students reported regularly consuming drugs or alcohol during their first term, which can bring about more symptoms and difficulties. For example, these students were more likely to rate their emotional health as being worse and to experience more stress, overwhelm and anxiety.

According to John MacPhee, Executive Director of the Jed Foundation, “the findings about drug and alcohol use are important and surprising because they indicate students who are drinking and using drugs during their transition may be doing so because they are in distress. We know that transitions are a time of risk as it relates to substance abuse.” The poll found 31 percent of respondents felt drinking is a normal part of the college experience, he noted. “This is worrisome,” he said. “It speaks to the need to educate students in high school before the transition takes place.”

Perhaps there can be mandatory classes on campuses throughout the nation that help students become more prepared, along with offering better student support services. In the meantime, high school teachers, parents and peers can increase their efforts to prepare students for the transition into college life, as the statistics and behaviors that go along with college binge drinking and drug use can be devastating.