The use of alcohol and other substances is something that is not uncommon for college-age kids. Many people identify their years in college as a time where they drank too much or experimented with substances. Alcoholism and substance use disorders affect millions of college students each year at campuses across the country. Four out of every five college students (80%) report consuming alcohol to some degree throughout their college experience. Additionally, it is estimated that 50% of college students nationwide engage in binge drinking.


How Can Alcoholism in College Students be Identified?

Drinking on college campuses certainly can be problematic. About one in four college students report that they have experienced academic difficulties from drinking. This can include poor grades, getting behind on school or classwork, missing class, or having incomplete assignments. Roughly 20% of college students meet the criteria for having an alcohol use disorder (AUD), and close to 60 percent of college students between the ages of 18 and 22 admitted to drinking alcohol in the Fall 2020 semester, wither nearly two in three students during the same period admitting to binge drinking.


It is important for parents to watch out to ensure that if their child does experience a problem with alcohol during college, that they are able to step in, intervene, and make sure that they aid their student in getting help. Parents should maintain open, honest communication with their child, and make sure to offer a safe place to share thoughts and experiences without judgment. Parents should also get an idea of what is going on with their children during their college experience.

  • Is the child happy?
  • Are they enjoying their college experience?
  • Are they attending class?
  • Are they dealing with anxiety or depression?
  • Do they feel isolated or are they making friends and feeling connected to other students?


Problems with Alcohol Don’t Always Equal Bad Grades

Students that are thriving in school can also experience drinking problems. Students that are enjoying their college experience and making many friends can also have a problem with alcohol. Many students who engage in fraternity or sorority life report that they have many friends in college and overwhelmingly are enjoying school life, but these specific students also run into many drug and alcohol problems due to the prevalence of alcohol and other substances at Greek social events.


One of the largest issues impacting college-aged students currently is the COVID-19 pandemic. Many college students are in forced isolation, either living at home or living on campus but attending classes virtually. The isolation and disconnection are breeding grounds for substance misuse. It additionally can grant students more free time to be with their friends and engage in dangerous behaviors that include alcohol and drugs. More students are reporting cases of anxiety, depression, and panic disorders during the coronavirus pandemic, and society as a whole is dealing with rising cases of mental health issues, overdose fatalities, and thoughts of suicide due to COVID-19.


The good news is that parents are able to appropriately support their children who may run into issues involving alcohol and drugs during college. Prevention and education are important, but so too is having open and honest communication, listening without judgment, and offering help when it is needed. Most colleges will work with parents and students that run into issues while at school if the student is actively seeking help. Here at Maryland Addiction Recovery Center, we offer our Caron’s College Success™ at Maryland Addiction Recovery Center program for college students, allowing them to leave school, receive treatment, and appropriately reengage in college when they are clinically ready. This works in tandem with many collegiate recovery programs offered at numerous colleges and universities throughout the county, which support students in recovery when they return to campus after completing treatment.


The good news is that numerous studies demonstrate that students in recovery perform better than the regular student population, so seeking and receiving help while in college is not a detriment to the student and does not hurt their overall educational and academic goals.


Like the regular population, between 20-25% of college-age students have issues with drugs and alcohol that will require treatment. Comprehensive care and recovery are just as available to them as anyone else.


If you or someone you know needs help for addiction or co-occurring disorder issues, please give us a call. Maryland Addiction Recovery Center offers the most comprehensive dual diagnosis addiction treatment in the Mid-Atlantic area. If we aren’t the best fit for you or your loved one, we will take the necessary time to work with you to find a treatment center or provider that better fits your needs. Please give us a call at (410) 773-0500 or email our team at For more information on all of our drug addiction, alcohol addiction and co-occurring disorder services and recovery resources, please visit our website at