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Substance Use, Abuse, and Addiction

Photo of Road in the Middle of the Grass Field

Drug and alcohol use most often start out recreationally and college students typically do not set out to develop an addiction. What begins as social or moderate use can progress over time into a higher tolerance and a need for larger amounts of the drug or alcohol to gain the same effects as before. This process can be the start of an addiction and can go unnoticed by the user. Many students have a co-occurring mental health disorder that might be related to their alcohol or drug use. Treatment is crucial for college students' success and treating the underlying mental health problem is key to a successful recovery.

Below are some common signs that alcohol and /or drug use has become addictive or problematic for the user:

  • Grades start to deteriorate / missing class or work
  • Student conduct, legal or judicial entanglements
  • Decreased interest in extracurricular college activities / increased isolation
  • Shifts in sleeping patterns
  • Mood swings – agitation, anger, depression
  • Reckless behavior
  • Defensiveness, denial and or avoidance when talking about the topic
  • Financial problems
  • Relationship problems

Other Addictions

In addition to drugs and alcohol, college students may struggle with tobacco, nicotine, gambling, internet or video gaming abuse or addiction, to name a few. If you are concerned that things might be getting out of hand or that you might be struggling with an addiction, the Counseling Center is here to help.

Drexel University Policies

Students, faculty, and staff should be familiar with Drexel's polices and codes of conduct related to drugs and alcohol.

Brief Screening Tools

*Please note these assessment tools are brief screeners and do not replace a thorough clinical evaluation by a trained professional.

Screening Tools for Alcohol and Substance Use

Screening Tool for Problem Gambling

Screening Tool for Sexual Addiction

Area 12-Step / Peer-Led Recovery


Philadelphia Resources

For additional resources that may better fit your needs, please reach out to our Case Manager to find a referral that might be right for you. You can reach us at 215.895.1415 or email us at

Online Resources

The content provided here is intended for informational purposes only. It is not intended for self-diagnosis or self-treatment, nor should it replace the consultation of a trained medical or mental health professional. Please note that outside links are not under our control, and we cannot guarantee the content contained on them.