Alcohol and drugs are present on college campuses virtually everywhere. So are symptoms of psychological issues, such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress. However, a small percentage of students who need help for these issues ever actually seek out mental health services. Is it that they don’t see drug and alcohol use as a problem? The answer to that question varies. According to a recent study led by Robert J. Lowinger of Bluefield State College in West Virginia, college men and college women perceive the effects and severity of drug and alcohol use differently.
In his study, Lowinger interviewed 201 college students using a modified version of the Degree of Impairment Scale (DIS) to assess how drug use and alcohol consumption interfered with their lives with respect to academic performance, career, daily routine, social engagement, romantic relationships, and friendships. He looked at how the students rated severity of use and which types of impairments increased help seeking, and which students were most likely to seek help. He found that all of the participants viewed drug problems as more problematic than alcohol problems. Females were more likely than males to seek help for problems with drugs or alcohol and cited more academic and daily routine impairments as a result of drug or alcohol use.
Even though the students listed minimal impairments with peer interactions and other social relationships, drug use related to this did not motivate them to seek help, but alcohol use that impaired social interaction did. This could be due to the fact that alcohol is more socially acceptable and present than drug use, and therefore more students have alcohol related problems than drug related problems. The results of this study were based solely on self-reports, which could distort the data. Additionally, the small sample size prohibited Lowinger from revealing any cultural, sexual orientation, or racial patterns. “Nevertheless, this study suggests that there are significant differences in the way that students’ perceive problems relating to drugs and alcohol use,” said Lowinger.
Lowinger, Robert J. College students’ perceptions of severity and willingness to seek psychological help for drug and alcohol problems. College Student Journal 46.4 (2012): 829-33. Print.
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