Tell the Truth Day: Drugs & Alcohol in College

It’s Tell the Truth Day and we decided to get in the spirit and tell the truth about our experiences with alcohol and drug use in college. Believe it or not, you actually don’t have to drink or do drugs in college to be cool or have the “ultimate college experience.”


All of our responses are drawn from our own personal experiences, and we’ve also added some statistics taken from a survey of college students at Indiana University in 2008. 

Q: Where did you go to school?

Olivia: Indiana University Bloomington

Kira: Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

April: I went to a community college and then to a private school to finish my bachelor’s.

Q: What was the drug and alcohol culture like at your school? 

Olivia: You would be exposed to drugs and alcohol whether you wanted to be or not. Now, that didn’t mean you had to partake in it, in fact most people were respectful if you said you didn’t want to drink or smoke weed. Drinking was huge, especially around Little 500. Kids would treat the entire week like a holiday and would stay at home and party or go to the bars and not go to class all week. As far as drugs, weed was the biggest by far. I heard about people using Adderall, coke and LSD but never actually witnessed it for myself.  

Kira: At SIUE there was a big party culture where underage alcohol consumption was very high. Really, the only illegal drugs that I knew of people using were marijuana or prescription Adderall that was shared among students. During the first week of school, at one of the welcome week activities was the first time I was offered an alcoholic drink. I was offered marijuana at a party my sophomore year.

Q: Did you ever feel pressured to drink underage or do drugs in order to fit in or for other reasons?

Olivia: I felt comfortable saying no and most people respected my decision. 

Kira: No, I never really felt pressured. 

April: No, because I had a group of friends who didn’t really want to drink and weren’t going to force me to if I didn’t want to. 

Q: How strict were the policies surrounding underage drinking and illegal drug use and were they enforced? 

Kira: There were definitely policies in place to discipline those who were caught underage drinking or using drugs, however I wouldn’t say that they deterred students from partaking in this behavior. I felt like there were stricter policies in place to prevent the sale of illegal drugs or for supplying alcohol to a minor. In the dorms were where most of the policies were upheld, and it depended on which residence hall you lived in, what floor you lived on, and what RA you had.

Q: Where was the most common place for students to drink underage or use drugs?

Olivia: A lot of kids tried to drink and smoke pot in the dorms. Most would go to house parties or frats though. 

April: Fraternity parties or downtown at clubs.

Q: Was it easy for underage students to purchase alcohol off campus?

Olivia. Most kids would befriend an upperclassman or rely on an older sibling to give them alcohol. You could also go to house parties and pay a $5 cover to drink if you were a guy (it was free if you were a girl). Others would try to go into the bars on Kirkwood, but they’ve cracked down in recent years after Lauren Spierer went missing. As Yogi Ferrell found out.

Kira: No. But it was easy for underage students to get of-age students to buy alcohol for them.

Q: What do you think could be done to reduce underage alcohol consumption and drug use?

April: I think students need to know that there are others out there who don’t drink, and that it’s a very normal and possible decision to make. I think it’s been so normalized that college kids “just drink,” but it was very easy for me to find a group of friends at school who didn’t, and we had a blast through college! I also think students need to be informed on how to calculate their BAC, what happens in their bodies when they do drink, and how to be safe if that is the decision they are making. When you don’t have a plan before you go out, you can get into a lot of trouble. Learning to space out your drinks, eat first, and how much you are actually drinking can really have a positive effect and keep a lot of people out of trouble.

Think drinking copious amounts of alcohol in one sitting is normal for college students? It’s actually not. In a 2008, a survey of IU students was conducted and 800 students participated. Here were the results:

  • It was reported that students drank on an average drinking occasion 3-4 drinks, but believed their peers to be drinking 5-6 drinks.

Another important fact we need to discuss is that drinking can lead to some bad things, particularly sexual assault. The same IU study found that: 

  • 50% of sexual assaults on college campuses were recorded to involve alcohol, either from the perpetrator or the victim.
    • As a result, reports show that 1 in 5 college students are sexually assaulted each year.





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