Addiction Resources for Students
College students are one of the top demographics for drug and alcohol use. What makes drug and alcohol use prevalent among college students? Numerous reasons contribute, including higher availability of the substances, peer pressure and lack of knowledge about stress management.
The human brain takes 25 years to fully develop. Your frontal cortex — the part of your brain that plays a huge role in decision-making and impulse control — is the last part to develop. This leaves college students under the age of 25 more susceptible and vulnerable to drug and alcohol use.
Most people who start college are still teenagers. Teenagers process information with their amygdala whereas adults begin processing information through the prefrontal cortex. The amygdala is involved in emotions.
All of these factors increase the risk of a college student using alcohol or drugs and becoming addicted. With the right knowledge, however, you can greatly reduce your chance of becoming addicted. If you are already having issues with substance use, you can overcome the addiction through rehab.
College Student Drug and Alcohol Use Statistics
80% of college students have misused alcohol, and 31% of college students report symptoms of alcohol use disorder. Approximately 110,000 college students who are under the age of 25 are arrested for an alcohol-related crime every year.
The 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) found that 36.9% of college students between the ages of 18 and 22 reported binge drinking within the last month. Binge drinking refers to when your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) reaches 0.08. It’s commonly caused by drinking fast or a large number of drinks. The CDC says that this often happens when men drink five or more drinks within two hours and when women drink four or more drinks within two hours.
You can avoid binge drinking by not participating in drinking games, pacing yourself and limiting yourself to how much you drink. Also, avoid drinking when you’re feeling stress, anxiety or any other negative emotion. You’re more likely to binge drink and develop an addiction if you drink while in a negative state of mind.
Binge drinking also increases the risk of:
• Alcohol poisoning
• Car accidents
• Violence toward others and yourself
• Sexual assault
• Heart disease
• Liver disease
• High blood pressure
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) estimates that 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die every year from alcohol-related injuries. Approximately 97,000 college students in this age group are sexually assaulted in an alcohol-related situation every year. Approximately 696,000 assaults each year are initiated by college students who have been drinking.
Aside from alcohol, other commonly used drugs among college students are marijuana, ecstasy, benzodiazepines, stimulants, prescription painkillers and cocaine. Although marijuana isn’t the most damaging drug, it does impair a person’s problem-solving and thinking skills. Some people develop a psychological addiction to marijuana and experience struggles in their studies and relationships as a result. Other potential dangers with marijuana are hallucinations and psychosis. People who frequently use high doses of marijuana have lower life satisfaction, poorer relationships and poorer mental health than those who don’t use marijuana.
Adderall and Ritalin are commonly used stimulants among college students. Other students often pressure peers who are on one of these prescription medications to sell it to them. Some want to improve their concentration whereas others mix it with other drugs like alcohol for a high. Even if a person’s reason for illegally obtaining stimulants is to study better, they are at risk of addiction and the harmful effects of taking a drug that wasn’t prescribed to them.
How Stress Plays a Role in Drug and Alcohol Use
Drugs give the user a good feeling for a short period of time, which is why some people turn to them when they’re stressed. The more they treat their stress with alcohol or drugs, the stronger their dependence on the substance becomes.
Most drugs have physically addictive qualities, further complicating things. Many people want to stop using drugs but find that they can’t on their own. They need the help of medical professionals to detox and stay abstinent from the drug. Addiction causes real changes in the brain. It takes months of therapy to reverse these damaging changes. For some people, it may take a year or longer to fully overcome the psychological impact their addiction has on them.
Some research has found that chronic stress can cause a person to use drugs due to the physical changes that stress causes in the brain. Chronic stress is more damaging than many people realize. Not only is it psychologically harmful, it’s physically damaging, too.
According to a study published by the NIAAA, alcohol dependence in men is closely related to stress. Women who have anxiety disorders or a family history of alcoholism are at a higher risk of stress-related drinking and alcohol addiction.
Negative consequences of addiction, such as damaged relationships with loved ones, loss of employment and lower grades at school, cause stress. This stress further fuels the addiction. It can feel like a vicious cycle, but rest assured that there’s hope no matter how strong the addiction is. You can stop the cycle and overcome addiction by enrolling in a rehab program.
During rehab, you’ll learn about how to cope with stress to reduce its negative impact on you. Some things you can do now include sticking to an exercise regimen and eating a healthy diet. These two things can help reduce a person’s stress and improve their overall mood.
People feel some level of stress in a new environment. Some students struggle to adapt to their new environment when they head off to college. Most or all of their friends went separate ways after high school graduation, so they are left having to make new friends. They come across other students who may be doing drugs and experience peer pressure to join in.
You can make the transition into college life easier by asking questions and keeping open lines of communication with your parents and professors. Your parents may have tips of their own to help you with adjusting to college life. They can also lend an ear when you need to talk.
Talk to at least one person in each of your classes. This will help you build friendships and feel less alone. You’ll also feel more comfortable and relaxed in class since it won’t seem as if you don’t know anyone.
Create a study spot. When you routinely go to the same place to study and only study in that spot, your brain begins to associate it with that activity. You’ll find it easier to focus when you have a study spot. Examples include an empty classroom, an off-campus library and your desk or a certain area in your room.
Make sure to attend new student events as well. It’s easier to find friends when everyone is new and looking for people to connect with.
How to Handle Peer Pressure
Almost every student will experience being pressured to drink or try a drug during their college years. Most people fear being criticized for saying no or being called “no fun.” It’s an uncomfortable and anxiety-inducing situation to be in.
Recognize that anyone who pressures you isn’t a good friend. Remind yourself that you’re better off without them and find someone who actually does care about you. A person who cares about you will respect you and your choice to not drink.
Take some time for yourself and write down what your values are. Clearly define the things that you’re not OK with and what you won’t do. This process gives you a guideline you can look at when you’re starting to feel worried about what other people think about you. Stay true to your values, and you will feel happy about yourself while staying safe from the problems that come with substance use.
If you are already struggling with addiction, be prepared to let go of some people in your life who use the drug. When you return from rehab, they might try pressuring you to drink or take drugs with them again.
Do You Have a Child Heading to College?
Parents can help minimize the chances that their children will suffer from alcohol and drug use problems while at college by talking to them about the dangers involved, including the physical, legal and emotional hazards. Let your children know what the signs of alcohol poisoning and addiction are. When people catch and treat an addiction early on, they can recover more easily.
Also, let your child know that a person needs to enroll in rehab to treat an addiction. For mild addictions, your child may only need outpatient rehab, which means they don’t need to stay at the facility. For addictions that are moderate to severe, your child might need detox and inpatient rehab.
Whether your child needs inpatient or outpatient rehab also depends on what type of substance they’re addicted to. Hardcore drugs like cocaine are often going to require intensive treatment due to how addictive they are.
Even though your child is likely too young to legally drink, let them know how to safely drink alcohol. Underage drinking is a prevalent problem, especially on college campuses where alcohol is easy to get.
Students should adhere to these safe drinking tips:
• Eat before and during drinking.
• Drink a glass of water in between drinks.
• Never leave your drink unattended to avoid date-rape drugs.
• Never accept drinks that you didn’t witness being made.
• Don’t participate in drinking games.
• Plan transportation before drinking.
• When taking medication, check if it’s safe to drink alcohol.
It’s worth noting that men should also never leave their drinks unattended or accept drinks they didn’t watch being made. It’s easy to forget that they can be victims of date-rape drug crimes as well.
Some Colleges Offer Help for Addiction
Check with your college to know what resources are available to assist you in recovery. Your school may have a recovery program. Other possible services include sober living dorms, sober support groups, peer mentoring and counseling.
The first step you should take in stopping substance use is to enroll in a rehab program. You don’t need to worry about temporarily putting off your studies for rehab. Inpatient programs typically only last one to three months. You can continue with your studies once you’ve completed rehab. We highly recommend going through an outpatient program or aftercare planning after inpatient rehab to ensure that you stay sober. People are at a higher risk of relapse when they return to their lives without an aftercare plan and continuous support in sobriety.
How to Find a Good Rehab Center
As you look at your options in rehab centers, consider which one meets your needs and resonates the most with you. You want to feel comfortable and cared for at the facility to focus on your recovery. Two treatment centers that are a good fit for college students are Green Mountain Treatment Center and NFA Behavioral Health.
Green Mountain Treatment Center is a Granite Recovery Center located in Effingham, New Hampshire. It offers gorgeous views of the White Mountains and Lakes Region. Surrounded by rolling hills and apple orchards, you may feel like you’re on vacation. Getting out in nature away from the business of the city relaxes your mind and makes it easier to focus on recovery.
Green Mountain Treatment Center uses clinical therapies and 12-step treatment to treat addiction. Holistic therapies, such as meditation, yoga and experiential adventure therapy, are available at this rehab. There’s a gym at the facility, too. Most insurance policies are accepted at Green Mountain Treatment Center, which provides gender-separate accommodations and programs for your comfort. A chef prepares nutritious meals to assist in recovery.
NFA Behavioral Health, another Granite Recovery Centers facility, has two locations. One, located in the beautiful countryside of Canterbury, New Hampshire, is a 20-bed facility that allows for a more intimate setting compared to large rehab centers. You can engage in fun activities like paintball, mini-golf and bowling during your stay. NFA Behavioral Health also offers holistic therapy, workshops and education programs.
Clinical therapies like dialectical behavior therapy and cognitive behavior therapy are used to help patients overcome addiction. You’ll be given nutritious, chef-prepared meals and gender-separate living accommodations. With a low staff-to-client ratio and a peaceful setting, NFA Behavioral Health is more like a home than a medical facility.
NFA Behavioral Health’s other location, in Salem, New Hampshire, is a PHP/IOP program in a state-of-the-art facility that provides multiple clinical tracks for substance use disorder and mental health conditions. The program here features evidence-based, 12-Step centered programming. Transportation is provided for clients across southern NH and the seacoast, and housing accommodations are available in nearby Manchester, NH.
Your Life Can Turn Around for the Better
You have a bright future ahead of you even if you have already developed an addiction. It’s possible to turn your life around and return to college stronger than before. You’ll learn helpful skills while in rehab that can assist you in being successful. If you don’t currently have an addiction, remember to stay aware of your stress levels and the peer pressure you’re exposed to. Remove yourself from peer-pressure situations if needed in order to protect yourself. Also, seek counseling when stress becomes overwhelming to reduce the risk of developing a substance use disorder.