Addiction Treatment for Massachusetts College Students

College-aged adults are more likely to misuse drugs and alcohol than any other age demographic in the United States. According to the 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 69.5% percent of all Americans between the ages of 18 and 25 consumed alcohol in the past year, and 37% used illicit drugs.1

This page will discuss the prevalence and dangers of college drug and alcohol use and treatment options for college students, like AdCare Treatment Center in Massachusetts.

Alcohol Abuse & Binge Drinking in College

college student hung over after binge drinkingThe National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) publishes that 52.5% of full-time college students between the ages of 18 and 22 drank alcohol in the past month (based on a 2019 national survey) and 33% engaged in binge drinking.2

Binge drinking is a particularly dangerous pattern of alcohol consumption that involves raising a person’s BAC (blood alcohol concentration) to at least 0.08 g/dL in two hours or less, usually meaning that a man consumes about five drinks or a woman consumes four drinks in that period. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 25% of U.S. adults that binge drink consume 8 or more drinks during one occasion.2

Binge drinking is associated with many serious health risks. These include:2

  • Accidental injuries (such as car collisions, falls, or burns).
  • Alcohol poisoning (also known as alcohol overdose).
  • Memory impairment and learning problems.
  • Chronic diseases like high blood pressure, heart disease, or liver disease.
  • Cancer.
  • Increased risk of stroke.

Binge drinking does not necessarily mean someone has an alcohol addiction; however, chronically binge drinking may indicate alcohol use disorder (AUD), the clinical term for alcoholism. 38% of UMass students scored high (eight or more) on the screening tool for high-risk drinking (AUDIT, the Alcohol Use Disorders Test).3

Underage Drinking in College

The fact that many college students are underage doesn’t seem to stop the beer and liquor from flowing and, as a result, doesn’t prevent the associated serious injuries and health problems.

Over half of all visits to University Health Services at Harvard University in Cambridge for alcohol-related issues are by freshmen. Many first-year students are very inexperienced with alcohol and choose to take advantage of the lack of parental oversight.4

Drug Abuse among College Students

College students looking for a way to get an edge in school may be tempted to misuse drugs prescribed to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

So-called “study drugs”—like Adderall or Ritalin—may help a student stay awake and focused for longer, enabling them to cram for an exam or finish a term paper. A 2016 study published by Massachusetts General Hospital found that 67% of Boston-area college students surveyed who misused these prescription stimulants struggled with stimulant use disorder.5

Another common drug of abuse on college campuses is marijuana, which is recently legal for adult (ages 21 and older) recreational use in Massachusetts. 44% of college students surveyed in 2020 admitted to using marijuana in the past year—a 6% increase from 2015.6

Prescription opioid use, heroin use, and opioid overdose are also serious and growing problems among college students.7 As a result, many organizations throughout the state and on local college campuses have taken measures to address the problem in an attempt to minimize opioid misuse and overdose deaths. Bridgewater State University, for example, has made Narcan (naloxone) available to the general public on campus, placing the drug in 50 defibrillator boxes around campus and in all 11 residence halls; the Boston Globe reports this is the first program like this in the entire United States.

Rehab for College Students in Massachusetts

AdCare Treatment Hospital rehabs in Massachusetts and Rhode Island offer individualized addiction treatment options that employ evidence-based methods that can help you or your loved one get sober and remain in recovery.

Outpatient treatment may be a helpful option to allow students to keep up with their classwork, while others may need the 24/7 support afforded by inpatient treatment.

Call an admissions navigator at to start the admissions process or learn how to use insurance to pay for rehab. You can also verify your insurance coverage using the confidential .

Campus and Massachusetts Addiction Treatment Resources

patient in college speaking to doctor about addiction treatmentResidents of the Commonwealth can use the Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator operated by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to find local treatment options, information on admittance, and referrals to care.

College campuses also often have support services for addiction treatment and recovery support as well, including specialized sober housing and networking opportunities for students in recovery. Examples of campus resources for college students struggling with substance abuse or addiction in Massachusetts include the following:

  • University Health Services at UMass Boston: This program offers consultations with a licensed drug or alcohol counselor who can answer questions related to problematic drug and/or alcohol use. UMass also provides the 360 Proof program that allows students to confidentially and personally assess their alcohol use through an interactive web program and hosts weekly Community Recovery Meetings on Zoom.
  • Wheaton College Counseling Center: This center provides alcohol and drug counseling, mental health support, and crisis management services to students.
  • Tufts University Counseling and Mental Health Services: This group offers confidential and complimentary mental health support from professionally trained counselors for students who have paid the health fee.
  • University Counseling Services (UCS) Boston College: UCS supports students with a variety of behavioral health services and programs, including individual counseling and group therapy sessions.
  • Boston University Student Health Services: This organization offers brief treatment options and referrals to more comprehensive and local addiction and/or mental health treatment programs for students.

Recovery support on Massachusetts campuses and beyond includes services like:

Substance Abuse Prevention in Massachusetts

Another aspect of addiction treatment is prevention. Most college campuses have programs and services to help minimize alcohol and drug abuse.

  • The University of Massachusetts Boston, as well as many other colleges and universities in Massachusetts, require all incoming students to take an online alcohol and drug course on the safe use of alcohol and drug safety.
  • Harvard University runs the DAPA (Drug and Alcohol Peer Advisors) program, which helps peers connect with mentors who can answer questions related to drug and alcohol use and provide education and information designed to minimize substance abuse.
  • Campuses across the Commonwealth are often tobacco-free, and organizations such as Tobacco-Free UMass Amherst support students refraining from tobacco use.
  • The Office of Prevention and Education (OPEN) at Northeastern University offers a nonjudgmental and supportive environment for students to check in to assess drinking and drug use behavior. It is open to all students who are seeking information on personal health and wellness.

Most college campuses will have some form of addiction prevention, treatment, and/or recovery support options open to current students. To find out more information on specific programs at a particular school, students should check with their student support, student services, or university health center for more information.

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AdCare has multiple locations throughout Massachusetts and Rhode Island, making it easily accessible to most parts of New England. We offer an integrated system of care and have been helping individuals and families struggling with addiction for 45 years. Take the next step toward recovery: learn more about our addiction treatment programs in MA and RI or learn about how rehab is affordable for everyone.