Five-Year Drop in Prescription Opioid Misuse in College Students, Yet Still More Work to Do


The fall brings back to school time and with the stresses of homework, exams, activities, and more, college students can be at risk for use and abuse of alcohol and drugs. While the 2018 Monitoring the Future College Students and Young Adults Survey from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed a significant decline in prescription opioid misuse (5.4 percent in 2013 to 2.7 percent in 2018), there are still concerns of injury and death from illegally obtained opioids and other drugs. A recent article in USA Today shared the story of James and Mary Winnefeld who created the SAFE Project after their son passed away from an overdose after only four days at college.

In the article, James, highlights proactive steps that campuses can take to protect students. This includes having a visible program in place for students in need of recovery support – beginning at day 1 freshman year.  A primary emphasis of the SAFE project called Safe Campuses, has the aim to “provide collegiate institutions with the tools and resources to support their students through any level of the substance-use spectrum, whether it be prevention, connection to treatment or recovery.”

The widespread presence of prevention and recovery programs on college campuses, combined with parental awareness of the signs of substance use addiction, can help keep students safe. This includes the presence of “opioid overdose kits” containing Narcan so that students have access to this life-saving drug. A 2018 NPR article highlighted examples of campuses using these kits. In terms of parent support, the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids has a range of resources and tools for parents, include a Parent Coach program where parents and caregivers who have gone through having a child with drug addiction share their experiences with new families going through the same struggle. CSIP and partners aim to educate families and communities on the risks of opioids. Resources on opioid addiction and avoiding risks of counterfeit medications are readily available.


About the Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies (CSIP)

The Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies (CSIP), a non-profit organization founded in 2011 by the White House, represents the technology sector and commerce intermediaries including Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Oath, UPS, PayPal, MasterCard, Discover, American Express, and .Health.  CSIP’s mission is to promote industry best practices as it relates to illegal online pharmacies, and educating consumers about safe purchasing of prescription drugs.