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New research links substance abuse to social pressures

Understanding addiction and how to combat it has always been a concern over the past few decades. Underage drinking, binge drinking and drunk driving incidents have declined a bit over the past few years. However, underage drinking is still prominent in many young adult settings, especially at universities. Vigilance is still needed in order to combat addiction. There needs to be a heavier emphasis on preventing the younger population from becoming addicted to any substance.

Project Know is a website specializing in helping those, and their families, with addiction problems. The organization also conducts its own independent studies in order to best understand addiction.

The newest study they have coordinated is garnered specifically towards younger, college and high-school aged people, though the information is still relevant to other age groups as well. The behaviors and patterns of these young, high-school and college aged students are being investigated in order to also provide assistance to the friends and families of addicted individuals.

The study focuses on social pressure and substance abuse. 1,445 college students were surveyed for the study, with 653 females, 782 males and 10 who identified as other. These sorts of studies attempt to prevent addiction through further understanding and educating.

The study examines the social aspects of substance abuse. As many know, the transition to college comes with constant pressure and a complete change in environment. Meeting new people and making friends can be a challenge on top of the added stress to succeed that is typically heavier in college than in primary and secondary education.

Keeping that in mind, more than one-third of the investigation’s participants revealed that their substance use was at least somewhat due to friends. The research also presented that 12 percent of participants confirmed pressure was a huge influence on their decisions concerning drugs and alcohol.

Erika Echols, a junior sociology major, laments on the issue of how substances can effect social situations. She stated, “I think peer influence of substance[s] is how abuse starts. People are more influenced to do drugs and [then] have a bad road ahead of them.”

Her statement is unfortunately within the realm of reality. Seventeen percent of the participants agreed that not using substances would harm current relationships while 66 percent agreed that they are most likely to partake in substance use and abuse in social settings such as going out with friends rather than when they are alone.

Binge drinking in particular seems to be largely facilitated through social compulsion – defined as four or more drinks consumed in one sitting for women and five or more for men. Binge drinking is likely to result in sickness, harm or even death in the worst case scenario. The study confirms binge drinking skyrockets, especially for men, when in social settings.

Many people are prey to eventually becoming addicted to some sort of illicit substance when attending higher education. The pressure, the temptation and for some, the need to fit in can cause debilitating effects that could last a lifetime.