The Colleges with the Highest Rates of Drug Violations and Arrests

Users of dangerous substances were often pressured or encouraged by others to try it for the first time. Young people are especially at risk of peer pressure’s negative influence as it relates to drug use. Adolescents in high school and in college experience social pressures to do certain things and act certain ways, which can lead them to make choices they never thought they would. Plus, starting dangerous activities at a young age can create difficult habits to break.

With this in mind, we decided to look further into drug use on college campuses in the U.S. Our study looks at the number of drug offenses on each campus, including violations and arrests, and shows where these issues are most prevalent. Read on for our full findings and methodology.

Table of Contents

The Colleges with the Most Drug Offenses

Map of the colleges with the most drug offenses on campus

First, we looked at the colleges with the most drug offenses. This is based on 2017 figures (the most recent data available). We found that few colleges in the South appear on this list, while many colleges with significant counts of drug offenses are located in the Midwest or Northeast. The top three are University of Colorado Boulder (2,606 offenses), Indiana University – Purdue U. – Indianapolis (2,098), and University of California Santa Cruz (2,032).

The Colleges with the Most Drug Offenses per 10,000 Students

Map of the colleges with the most drug offenses on campus per 10,000 students

Next, we wanted to see how these figures look relative to each school’s population. We calculated the number of drug-related offenses per 10,000 enrolled students. Two colleges remain in the top 3 of this ranking: University of California Santa Cruz (1,044.4) and University of Colorado Boulder (737.4). University of Vermont appears in the third ranking spot based on these figures, with 708.4 offenses per 10,000 students.

The Colleges with the Highest Increases in Drug Offenses

Map of the colleges with the highest increase in drug offenses on campus

We also wanted to see how these figures are changing over time. In other words, we wanted to find out where the problem of drug offenses is seeing the most growth year over year. We looked at the rate of change in the number of offenses per 10,000 enrolled students between 2015 and 2017. Some of these percentages are mind-boggling, with many in the triple or even quadruple digits. The three colleges that have seen the highest increases in drug offenses are Columbia College (1,103.3%), SUNY Westchester CC (1,034.6%), and Austin CC District (961.3%).

The Severity of Drug Problems at Each Major U.S. College

Finally, we wanted to show our calculations for all of the colleges included in our study. Use the interactive table above to find information about a specific college, either by sorting the data by column, or by searching the college name.


We used U.S. Department of Education data on the number of drug-related arrests and disciplinary actions associated with each college for 2015, 2016, and 2017. The basis of our rankings is the 2017 figures (the most recent available data). We included all colleges with a student enrollment of 10,000 students or more in 2017.



  • U.S. Department of Education


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