Hallucinogen Abuse by College Students

Contributor: Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC, Special Projects Coordinator at Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope

student-849822_640College is a time that allows students to explore new things, gain independence and develop of sense of autonomy. Many college students find that this opportunity in their lives allows for a freedom of choice and inevitably, responsibility for those choices.

With a new environment, lifestyle, circle of friends and added pressures, college students may find themselves susceptible to making choices that may result in negative consequences.

The Factors for Addiction in College

College students are increasingly vulnerable to drug addiction and substance abuse. There may be several reasons that may influence substance abuse among a college student, including stress that may result from the juggling act of coursework, social obligations, and work. Other factors that may be involved include accessibility, an environment that promotes ease of drug use, and peer pressure from other individuals who are experimenting with drugs, alcohol and other substances.

Statistics have shown that college students make up one of the largest groups of drug abusers nationwide, with individual between the ages of 18 to 24 enrolled in a full-time college program are twice as likely to abuse drugs and alcohol1.

Commonly Abused Substances

student-849827_640While college campuses see a flux in trends that may revolve around different drugs and substances, there are some substances that are commonly abused by college students. This includes alcohol, stimulants (such as Adderall) Ecstasy, and Marijuana.

For some students, experimentation with drugs involves trying Hallucinogens, substances commonly referred to as psychedelic drugs. These drugs may appeal to students who are searching for a new sensory experience and possibly among the dance club/rave party scenes.

Hallucinogens, such as mushrooms, salvia, acid, peyote, PCP, and DMT, are mind-altering drugs that directly act on the central nervous system of the body. The use of hallucinogen drugs can cause a widespread number of symptoms and side effects, including rapid heart rate, emotional instability, mood swings, hallucinations, body numbness, paranoia and confusion, shaking and tremor, nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, stomach cramps and pain, violent and aggressive behavior, and psychosis.

Dangerous Side Effects of Hallucinogen Abuse

When hallucinogens are used among college students, there is a high likelihood that other substances are involved that can result in irreversible and fatal side effects. A student under the influence of hallucinogens may be more prone to making poor choices, such as driving while experiencing mind-altering effects, which can lead to tragic accidents.

College students may engage in the use of hallucinogens simply because it is what their peers are doing. Other students may find that hallucinogens offer a temporary escape or relief from the many pressures and stressors that they may be facing. Whatever the reason may be, the use of hallucinogens can only lead to more serious consequences, including physical and psychological dependence, severe depression, flashbacks, and the occurrence of other mental illnesses.

Reach Out If You Feel That You Need Help

student-849825_640Perhaps you are a college student that has experimented with hallucinogens, either due to peer pressure, the desire to escape reality, or a combination of both. If you have found yourself going back to hallucinogens or finding ways to get high, this may indicate that a more serious problem has developed. Be sure to reach out to someone you trust to find the help you need to break this dangerous and vicious cycle.

As a college student, you have a world of opportunity and potential at your fingertips. Resorting to hallucinogen use for any reason will only truncate your potential and prevent you from both succeeding and making the most of your college experience.

If you have found yourself dealing with an overload of stress, consider reevaluating your schedule, work responsibilities and social obligations to find a way to lessen your load. Hallucinogens cannot be an answer to any type of problem, nor can they ensure acceptance among a social circle. Be sure to access the mental health and wellness resources that may be available on your college campus to get the help you need.

Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!

What about the college environment may increase the risk of a student abusing substances, including hallucinogen abuse? What do you think are effective methods to help prevent substance abuse among college students?


  1. Addiction Center, “College Drug Abuse: Why College students turn to Drugs”, https://www.addictioncenter.com/college/ Accessed 18 July 2015

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on July 31st, 2015
Published on AddictionHope.com