Study reveals college students with disabilities at greater risk for substance abuse

Sep 22, 2020

New Delhi, Sep 22 (ANI): College students with physical and cognitive disabilities use illicit drugs more, and have a higher prevalence of drug use disorder than their non-disabled peers, according to a Rutgers study. The study, published in the journal Disability and Health Journal, gives a new understanding of the risk factors for substance use in students with disabilities and will help develop more effective prevention and treatment strategies. An estimated 41 per cent of college students have used an illicit drug, most widely marijuana. The American College Health Association estimates that 54 per cent of students have a disability, including psychiatric disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, attention deficit disorder, learning disabilities, and chronic illnesses like cancer, diabetes, or autoimmune disorders. The researchers looked at 6,189 college or university students in the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 15 per cent of whom had a disability that affected their hearing, seeing, mobility, or mental or emotional functioning. The illicit drugs included marijuana, cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, inhalants, methamphetamine, and prescription medications such as pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants, and sedatives. They found that students with a disability had nearly twice the odds than their peers of misusing prescription pain relievers in the past month and were three times more likely to meet the criteria for past-year dependence or abuse of any illicit drug. In the sample, 40 per cent of students with any disability reported having used illicit drugs versus 30 per cent of their non-disabled peers. Close to 3 per cent of students with a disability reported having used heroin versus less than 1 per cent of their peers.