Substance Abuse and the Link to Campus Rape and Sexual Assault

by | Apr 28, 2017 | Recovery | 0 comments

Home » Recovery » Substance Abuse and the Link to Campus Rape and Sexual Assault

College is an exciting time for most students. It’s full of new beginnings and plans for a future. It is also a time for new discoveries. College students – especially those who live on a campus away from home – will undoubtedly face decisions that test their judgment and willpower. This is when parents hope that they did the best job that they could in raising their now-college age child. Even the best and brightest students will face challenges, and of course temptations in the form of drugs and/or alcohol. Unfortunately, substance abuse in college can result in dire consequences such as receiving poor grades and getting kicked out of school. Substance abuse can also lead to sexual assault and rape on campuses.

 

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It is totally understandable that college students want to explore their freedom and adulthood. But unfortunately, many students engage in substance abuse while they are in college. They do this for many reasons. They believe that it may lead to sex, or that they will gain new friends. Perhaps they want to fit in, or just want to experiment. Whatever the reason, there is no doubt that substance abuse – particularly heavy alcohol use – is directly linked to campus rape and sexual assault. And the substance abuse problem on campus goes far beyond drinking. College students are now partaking in drugs like stimulants such as Adderall; prescription opioids and painkillers; and sedatives.

We want to stress that sexual assault and rape occur without consent. The Department of Justice defines sexual assault as any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient. We also want to point out that few studies provide information on rapes of college women on campus, especially in cases where the victim was intoxicated. But there has been a bigger focus on campus rapes and sexual assaults recently.

Sexual Assault on College Campuses

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Now it’s time for some statistics:

Campus rape and sexual assault frequently go unreported. Therefore, it is difficult to determine exact statistics.

Less than 5% of rapes and attempted rapes of college students are reported to campus authorities or police. The Washington Post reported that approximately 55% of campuses with a thousand or more students reported at least one sexual offense in 2012. The Post’s analysis also found that the number of reports of sexual offenses that same year show an increase of 50% over the previous three years.

According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, almost 700,000 college students are assaulted by another student who was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and 97,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 reported experiencing alcohol-related sexual assault or rape. A study in 2003 at the University of Southern Illinois found that at least 80% of college students who were sexually assaulted were under the influence of drugs or alcohol. According to the AAUW, alcohol is used the most as a date rape substance, and 89% of sexual assaults occur when the victim is incapacitated due to alcohol.

But as we stated previously, alcohol is not the only substance involved in campus rape and sexual assault. The abuse of prescription opioids, stimulants, and marijuana on college campuses has shot up since the 1990s.  A recent survey and study about the prevalence of campus rape under the condition of intoxication found that one in 20 women reported being raped. The study also found that 72% of the victims were raped while they were intoxicated, and concluded that some campus environments are associated with higher levels of both drinking and rape.

What Role Does Substance Abuse Play in Campus Sexual Assaults?

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Substance use and abuse is not just linked to the sexual offender. They are also linked to the victims of the rape or sexual assault victims. Let’s be clear here – sexual assault and rape are never the victim’s fault, whether or not they were intoxicated or used drugs. And the use of substances by the aggressor is never an excuse for the assault. However, perpetrators see intoxicated or sedated victims as easy targets.

Alcohol and drug use can make the lines blurry regarding what is right and what is wrong. Consent is a huge part of this. Any sexual act involves consent by all parties. But when a college student is partaking in substance use, they may not be able to give their consent. Their perception of everything is distorted, and sexual offenders may take advantage of this. Even if the perpetrator did not originally intend to break the law and they are in fact under the influence themselves, it does not diminish the crime.

Drugs and alcohol lower inhibitions, and this takes place in the pleasure part of the brain. Since substances alter your perceptions, you might do things that you normally would not do if you were sober. You might make not sound decisions when you are under the influence, and you may take part in very risky behavior.

Getting Addiction Treatment While in College

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College is a time that is for learning, growing, and figuring out how you want to impact the world. College is not all about partying and experimenting with sex, drugs and alcohol. Students who suffer from substance abuse problems need to get help before they face the possible dire consequences. And considering how expensive college is these days, it doesn’t make sense to waste money, efforts, and time. This is why college students need to figure out new ways of dealing with the stress of their lives.

As adults, we often do not want to stand outside of ourselves and look inward. We are scared about what we may see or find. On the other hand, we might feel ashamed if we admit that we have a substance abuse problem. We may be afraid our family and friends will not understand. And if we get treatment for our addiction, we fear that may hurt our future. The reality is that most people will look up to us for admitting that we need help. Not that you have to tell anyone about your treatment if you don’t want to. But the thing to remember is that most people understand, including your professors, peers, and family members. For more information on how to treat your addiction, contact Amethyst today.

 

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