Most people know college as a time for experimentation. This is when you drink, try out a few drugs, and maybe even test out your sexual preferences. At least, that’s what TV and movies might have us believe. In truth, it doesn’t take that long to decide whether or not drugs and alcohol might do us more harm than good. Our grades start slipping, and our relationships go right down the drain. But it’s okay, because we’re just experimenting—at least, that’s what we like to tell ourselves in order to keep the “experiment” going.
Trust us, we have been there. We know what it’s like to think that everything’s okay as long as it happens near campus. The problem with this line of thinking is that it doesn’t take the future into account. If we fail too many classes and soil too many relationships, our future may look pretty rough. College isn’t a time to play around with drugs and alcohol. It’s a time to build our futures through high grades, internships, and jobs that relate to the career we envision for ourselves. If we aren’t using college to accomplish these goals, we are essentially throwing our scholarships down the drain.
We have met too many people who took this view of college. Once they entered treatment, they often became frightened. They didn’t know whether or not they would be able to make up for the harm they had done. Worry not. We have some advice for the college-bound addicts and alcoholics—both those who are still in school, and those who are worried they may never go back. Considering the rates of college education today, we shouldn’t throw our lessons away. We need to find a new way of dealing with our stresses. Below, we’ll outline three basic tips for alcoholics and addicts who are trying to better their education.
Actually Listen to Concerns
Some people engage in substance abuse while in college because they believe it may lead to sex. Imagine their surprise when their one-time paramour asks them whether or not they may suffer from a drinking problem. One of our own employees suffered this same fate. Not long after that, one of the deans suggested that he seek rehabilitation. This angered him quite a bit. He didn’t think he needed treatment for alcohol or drug abuse. After all, he had these things under control—for the time being, he was just having fun.
A few years went by, and this same employee was dismissed by his university. He was angry, primarily because this happened one month before graduation. But in truth, who was to blame? It was not the dean or his one-night stand that coerced him into drinking night after night. He did these things on his own. There existed a long history of substance abuse in his family, but he promptly forgot about that. His father was an abusive alcoholic, but he himself was just a student with no kids of his own—so clearly, he was not on the same path. This was nothing but sheer denial in action.
If the man above had chosen to listen to the concerns of those around him, he might have graduated. In fact, he might have graduated quite well. His grades—when he actually went to class—spoke to a young man of high intelligence. Unfortunately, his actions took point. Nobody awards high marks to a smart person who does nothing with their intellectual gifts. In the end, the only thing that matters is our course of action. He chose the wrong path, and he suffered for it in the end.
When people tell us that we may have a problem with substance abuse, we need to listen to them. We can’t just write them off. Sure, it’s easy to pretend that they don’t understand us. But in all reality, they probably see a side of us that we simply cannot see for ourselves. Nobody asks if we have a substance abuse problem out of sheer curiosity. They ask us this question because of what they see us do when we ingest drugs or alcohol. For this very reason, we must pay mind to their opinions.
Besides College, Think About Your overall Future
After people ask us about our potential substance abuse problem, we need to take an inward look at ourselves. How have drugs or alcohol affected our college performance? More importantly, how have they affected our college experience? The two differ in ways we sometimes ignore. Perhaps our experience seems great, but our performance is terrible. In other cases, we may perform well yet find that we don’t enjoy the time we spend drinking and abusing drugs with friends. We try to both control and enjoy our substance abuse. In the end, we will not succeed in doing both.
Remember what we said at the start of this article. Your college career will inform your success in matters such as careers and relationships. People will look at your history when considering your ability to work at their company. Those who might be looking for solid relationships could also be turned off by inexperience and shaky college history. When you turn down your own education, you open the door for people to think less of you. For this reason, your future depends upon your ability to see yourself in a realistic light. And that light cannot be colored by bias alone. You need to show that you truly care about your life and how it affects those around you.
Our future hangs in the balance once we start abusing drugs and alcohol. Normal people can use drugs or alcohol a few times in college without worry. But true addicts and alcoholics find that, once they start using, they simply cannot stop. It doesn’t benefit us to be among such people. Our greatest benefit is to establish ourselves as different. We set ourselves apart by showing that we can have fun without resorting to drugs and alcohol at all. This may seem weird to some of our friends, but they are not necessarily the friends whose company we need to keep.
If we care about the future, then the first step listed above should not worry us. In fact, if anything, it should put us at ease. No longer do we need to worry about what others think of us when we turn down a drink or a toke. We don’t need to worry about what they might think when we say that we prefer to be sober during big parties. It’s during big parties that we run the risk of doing something stupid and breaking the law. If we truly care about our college career and the manner in which it reflects upon our future, this really shouldn’t worry us so much.
We tend to fear addiction treatment, especially when we’re in college. This fear often stems from the belief that leaving school for treatment will cut our college career quite short. In truth, most deans would likely allow us to continue where we left off if they knew we were doing something for our own benefit. It doesn’t benefit them for us to fail college courses and lower the school’s grade average. Aside from that, many deans care quite a bit about their students. They’d rather see us succeed in sobriety than fail in addiction.
Another fear which strikes many college addicts is that treatment results in stigma. Our fellow students may wonder why we disappeared for a year. Only two options occur to us: either tell them the truth or lie. If we tell them the truth, we open ourselves up to criticism. But if we lie, then we put ourselves in the position of getting invited to parties where we may relapse. It feels like a catch-22, in which we fail either way.
Neither of these options should worry us too greatly. Most of our peers probably noticed that substance abuse affected us in major ways. Our choice to receive treatment probably won’t surprise them, and they may even admire us for doing something to better ourselves. But if you’re scared to tell certain people, that’s alright. They might invite you to parties, but you don’t have to accept if you’re not ready. Your college career should motivate you far more than any form of peer pressure. This is your life. You need to take care of it, no matter what anybody else says.
College was never meant to be a time for experimentation. It was meant to be a time for growth. Students who suffer from substance abuse problems should get them sorted out now before it’s too late. It’s far better to take time off from school for treatment than to take time off from your career and family. If we don’t start to better ourselves as early on as possible, we may not survive long enough to do it later. Students who struggle with drugs and alcohol need to seek a solution now. For more information on how to treat your addiction, contact Amethyst today.