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What’s the Connection Between the Collegiate Sports Scene and College Drug Use?

What’s the Connection Between the Collegiate Sports Scene and College Drug Use?

College is a time of transition for young adults, which sometimes includes exploration with drinking and drugs. Here is how the collegiate sports scene contributes to the drug use problem.

College is a time of exploration, transition and growth for many young adults. College presents an opportunity for young adults to explore their independence and slowly ease into the responsibilities of adulthood. It is also a time where many young people will experiment with alcohol and illicit drugs. With approximately a third of students between the ages of 18-22 admitting to binge drinking at least once a month and 1 in 5 using illicit drugs, it has become obvious that college drug use has become a growing problem for our youth. (1)

It’s important that we not assume that newfound independence is the only thing behind college drug use. We need to look also at other factors that might encourage use and contribute to addiction problems. Of all the various facets of college life, one we should be looking more closely at is the collegiate sports scene and how it may contribute to drug addiction problems.

Collegiate Sports and Addiction

Collegiate sports are an important aspect of college life. The only problem is that there are elements of the collegiate sports scene that can open doors to alcohol and drug use for some students. This situation frequently occurs with the student celebrations that are associated with college sports as well as use among the college athletes themselves.

There are certain triggers for substance use that are commonly experienced by college students. These include increased stress, pressure from heavy course loads, explorative curiosity and the weight of peer pressure. In some ways, we can connect collegiate sports to each of these.

For students who are finding their footing in the world their first time away from home, curiosity can be strong as well as the stress of the transition into adulthood. When there are crowds of people celebrating before, after, and during the game, it can be tempting to play along and see what the highly celebrated team spirit is all about. For students who are of legal drinking age and have learned to control their behaviors, there’s nothing wrong with a little celebration.

The problem occurs when younger students, who are at a higher risk of participating in dangerous behaviors, are exposed to alcohol and illicit substances. Unlike going to a bar or club every night, collegiate sports celebrations are socially acceptable and team spirit is encouraged. It’s an environment that can provide validation for the college student to overindulge and possibly participate in behaviors that could lead to an addiction problem.

College Athletes and Substance Use

Tailgating and after-parties aren’t the only areas of today’s collegiate sports scene where the potential for substance use exists. Student-athletes are among those at a higher risk of substance use. Due to this, college athletes and substance use have become a growing problem for many collegiate campuses.

When compared to the portion of the collegiate student body that isn’t involved in sports, student-athletes have higher rates of binge drinking, with 20 percent of male athletes admitting to consuming 10 or more alcoholic beverages when they drink. There is also a growing prevalence of illicit and prescription drug use among college athletes. (2)

Addiction Recovery for Young Adults in Boca Raton

There are multiple things we can do to combat college drug use. A few of these include creating an environment that focuses on substance use prevention, focusing on education, and having a system in place that offers academic support in rehab and celebrates the success of students that have overcome addiction problems. If you’re a college student struggling with substance abuse or are worried about someone who is, there is addiction recovery for young adults in Boca Raton that you can reach out to.

Even if you just have questions or need someone to talk to, connecting with a compassionate addiction treatment center in Boca Raton, Florida can help you begin the path to a healthier, substance use free life for yourself or someone you love.


Media Contact:

Life of Purpose Treatment – Boca Raton Addiction Treatment

(T): 732-421-5955



***Clinical Statement***

The terminology used in our articles does not always reflect the current clinical terminology. As the language changes within the community, we encourage the shift in terminology to help end the social stigma surrounding the addiction community. Our articles are written for online public consumption and are meant to be easily accessible to people searching for help. To be successful in our efforts to help as many people possible, we may use phrases or terms that are not reflective of our clinical perspective but are used by the general public. 

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