Substance Use and Academics

Substance use impacts academic functioning

College is a time of great learning and experience that will often stick with students for the rest of their lives. It is also a time when some students start to use substances, some for the firs time. According to the American College Health Association’s National College Health Assessment, 72.6% of GVSU students drank alcohol in the last 30 days prior to the survey. Alcohol is the number one substance used by college students followed by marijuana and study drugs like Adderall. Substance use can have significant impacts on students’ academic success. Alcohol and drug use can impact motivation, cognition, memory, and concentration. Substance use is associated with lower GPAs for students who use compared to non-substance users. Those who use both alcohol and marijuana have an average GPA of 2.66 (Meda, et al, 2017). Often times, students are unaware of the impacts of their substance use on their educational performance or do not attribute concerns to their substance use. College is a crucial time for students to be educated on the impacts and implications of alcohol and drug use.


Potential Signs & Indicators

Students who are using substances may experience a number of concerns with their academic performance. This may include frequently forgetting homework, missing or skipping classes, and significant drop in grades or quality or work.

There may be a number of physical signs that are indicative of concerns with alcohol or other drugs. These signs can include lack of energy and motivation, red eyes and cheeks, difficulty focusing, constricted pupils, and chronic nosebleeds.

Substance use can interfere with students daily functioning. There may be a decline in physical appearance including apparel and grooming.

While not all changes and behavior or relationships is attributable to substance use, it may be a factor in accounting for changes. These signs would include strained relationships, temper outbursts, changes in peer or social group, and defensiveness around behavior

There are a number of substances that may linger. These may include odors of marijuana, cigarettes, or alcohol.