Substance Use and Abuse

Substance use/abuse can affect all areas of life, and is one of the most neglected topics when being assessed for mental health treatment. RISD’s alcohol policy strives to permit acceptable, responsible use of alcohol by students of legal age who choose to do so. Use or possession of illegal or non-prescribed drugs is not allowed on campus. That said, RISD CAPS remains a confidential space. You may talk freely with your counselor about drug and alcohol use or abuse, without fear of being disciplined or reported. As provided in RISD’s “Good Samaritan” policy, students who voluntarily and proactively seek help for their own use of such substances or for that of others ordinarily will not be charged for such use under the controlled substances provision of the Code of Student Conduct.

Facts About Drug & Alcohol Use

  • In small doses, some of the short-term effects of alcohol are reduced tension and relaxation, but these are also accompanied by reduced inhibition (your ability to stop yourself from doing something you know you shouldn’t), coordination and reaction time – all of which put you at risk. An altered mental state (being drunk or high) is a factor in the three leading causes of death among 15- to 24-year-olds: accidents, homicides and suicides.
  • Alcohol travels through your bloodstream and can damage your brain, stomach, liver, kidneys and muscles. Because the teenage brain and body are still developing, alcohol and substance use can have permanent damaging effects.
  • 90% of Americans with a substance abuse problem started smoking, drinking or using other drugs before age 18
  • In 2005, 6.6% of the US population aged 12 or older, or 16 million people, reported heavy drinking (binge drinking on at least five days of the past thirty days).
  • There are 1.4 million drunk driving arrests in the US every year.
  • 39% of all traffic deaths involved alcohol in 2005.
  • 40% of violent crimes occur under the influence of alcohol.

Internet, Gaming, and other Behavioral Addictions

When it comes to addiction, often the first things that come to mind are drugs and alcohol, but there are other types of addictions as well, including addictions to playing video games, social media, gambling, and other behaviors that can become compulsive. An addiction is defined as compulsively engaging in a behavior, such that it interferes with everyday life.

  • Online role-playing games (especially multiplayer games or MMOs) are more likely to result in video game addiction than other computer game genres.
  • Students addicted to video games have lower academic grades than their non-addicted peers.
  • The same regions of the brain that are activated when craving occur in alcohol and drug addicts are also activated in video game addicts when they see images of computer games.
  • Video game addiction may be the result of ineffective time management and a desire to avoid other difficulties (rather than theoretical “addictive” qualities of the game).
  • School, interpersonal, and anxiety problems are associated with a higher risk for internet addiction.
  • 2-8% of the population may experience internet addiction.
  • 3-4% percent of the American population has a gambling problem; this is approximately between six to eight million people.

Counseling can be helpful with both substance and behavioral addictions. The most successful treatments also include a component of community support, such as support groups, involvement of family and friends, and/or AA/NA meetings.

Drug Use on College Campuses Statistics

10 Surprising Things That Happened When I Quit Drinking Alcohol