At Amethyst, our goal is to meet people where they are in life, whether they’re an adult with a career or someone who is starting college. There’s no question that college is a difficult time for those who choose that path for their lives. Between the repetitive ramen noodle dinners and academic pressure, it’s far from simple. These challenges only complicate things further when a substance use disorder presents itself.
Challenges of a College Transition
People from all walks of life have their own stories to tell. However, sometimes the root of their struggles share striking similarities no matter where they come from. Those struggles have a way of psychologically pressuring students into abusing drugs or alcohol to cope. Some of these challenges include the following:
- Coping with poor mental health
- Major transitions
- Peer pressure
- Academic pressure
- Career pressure
Coping With Poor Mental Health
It is worth mentioning that many adults suffer from mental health disorders.
Multiple studies concur with the conclusion that three out of four mental health disorders are developed by the time someone is 24 years of age. That being said, many students could be developing mental health disorders while they’re attending school. Some of these may include the following:
- Bipolar disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
Being that every person comes from a different environment, there is bound to be particular environments that influence some of the disorders mentioned above. Some who have experienced more traumatic circumstances such as witnessing the death of a loved one or being physically abused may be at a higher risk of depression, anxiety or PTSD.
Having to live through a mental health disorder is one of the hardest things because it is so difficult to escape your mind. In fact, for some, without treatment, it’s impossible. This combined with the pressure of academics influence them to turn to drugs and alcohol as coping methods.
For eighteen years of their lives, kids are living with their parents; once they make the transition (if they do) to college life, things change. This isn’t some minor change like adding an extra-curricular; this change is a lifestyle shift. Abandoning a whole chapter of someone’s life and starting another. Whether or not they choose a college education, work, or the military, these adjustments are difficult to make. This sort of transition evokes feelings of loneliness that lead someone to become depressed or anxious.
College is a time of new-found freedom. Drinking and doing drugs has never been easier for those who don’t have to answer to their parental authorities. Some students may use this as an opportunity to do so.
Apart from new-found freedoms, certain pressures come along with attending college. One of those pressures happens to be fitting in with peers. Partying is notorious for being a part of the college experience. When social norms are associated with substance abuse, it increases the risk of faking victim to it.
Partying being so closely associated with drinking games and having a “good” time by the use of drugs and alcohol increases the risk of someone using too much of a particular substance. Once this happens, the risk of injury, problems with the law, unsafe sex, or bad decisions becomes more likely.
All kids know from first grade onward is that academics are important. The concept of exceptional grades and the significance of a college education are drilled into the heads of many. The idea that a college education can make or break an individual leads to many pressures. If someone feels overwhelmed, they may result in substance abuse as a way to numb their anxiety as it relates to their academia. Ironically, this often leads to students performing academically.
Because academia has been pressed into so heavily for the majority of their lives, the pressure to perform well in school is frightening. It seems as though these kids have to go from zero to 100 in a matter of seconds because of the responsibility that college brings with it. This change of pace is exhausting, and exhaustion is discouraging. Because of this, students may not perform well academically, which will not look very good on internship or job applications.
Typical Substances of Abuse
All of the previously mentioned factors contribute to drug and alcohol use. Some of these substances include the following:
- Marijuana (Weed)
How Do I Know If I’m Addicted?
Some symptoms of addiction include the following:
- Increased tolerance
- Lack of motivation
- Frequent memory loss
- Severe lack of judgment
When someone is addicted, it is often difficult to discern their condition. This is why students must avoid drinking more than they should. Evaluating one’s experiences using substances with a sober friend is a good way to monitor one’s addictive behavior. Not only that but abstaining from illicit substances could prove itself useful in the long term.
Something else worth noting is that it is just as important to look out for others when they are using substances. This has the potential to prevent dangerous situations. No matter what the surrounding environment may look like, substance use should always be monitored and taken seriously.
The Problem With Addictive Behavior
It’s one thing to do what someone else advises you to do, but it’s entirely different when you understand why you should or shouldn’t do something. If someone were to think critically they may ask themselves why addictive behavior is considered a bad thing.
When someone is expressing addictive behavior, they may exhibit a lack of judgment, which leads to situations such as drunk driving. These decisions are what make addictive behavior so concerning. When someone does this, they could run into many problems such as trouble with the law or health concerns like STDs.
When someone’s decisions look like this while they’ve been under the influence of drugs and alcohol, they aren’t just putting themselves at risk; they’re also putting those around them at risk. When these behaviors are visible, it may be time to intervene.
Some ways to do so may include interventions, or just having a simple conversation with someone who cares and understands. If you notice yourself or someone close to you exhibiting signs of addictive behavior, you must reach out for support and educate yourself on the next steps to take.
What Are My Options?
Being in college is scary, and it may seem as though your options are limited when it comes to helping due to expenses or peer pressure, but nobody has to face these issues alone. Conversations with others who may care for you don’t cost a dime. Not only that but college campuses usually offer counseling to students who are dealing with behavioral disorders like substance use disorder.
These counselors have a vast number of resources to help students that struggle. Whether it be coping strategies or support groups on campus, there are many ways to combat one’s addiction while attending school. To figure out what your options are, it may be useful to utilize a university’s website as a starting point.
Not only can this be a huge help for you or your loved one, but in the long run, it may help others who struggle with the same issues. There are often groups that meet on campus that help strengthen one another in their fight against substance abuse. Either way, being proactive in finding assistance may prove itself useful.
Different Kinds of Treatment
Other than on-campus resources, there are also others that some students may be able to consider. Some of those include the following:
Residential, or inpatient treatment is what is referred to when someone stays in a treatment facility for an extended amount of time. This method of rehab usually lasts anywhere between 28 days to six months. Those who participate in residential treatment options have 24-hour access to health care professionals, as well as weekly (in some cases daily) access to professional therapists and psychiatrists. This is beneficial to those who suffer from severe cases of addiction.
Lasting anywhere from three months to over a year, outpatient rehab is a method of treatment in which those participating recover while living in the comfort of their own homes. This is beneficial for those who are either exiting inpatient treatment or suffer from a milder case of addiction. This method of care provides patients with 10-12 hours of weekly access to professional therapists and psychiatrists.
Medically assisted detox (MAT), is a method of care in which those who participate can slowly wean themselves off of drugs and alcohol with the help of medication. This medication allows patients to make great strides in sobriety without experiencing the symptoms of withdrawal. Withdrawal is a difficult process of recovery, but with the help of MAT, it is all the more possible to recover successfully.
Amethyst is There for You
Struggling with the pain of addiction is difficult, especially for those who are in the midst of a complicated life transition. This can lead to feelings of isolation and hopelessness, but always remember you are not alone in this fight. There are people on the other side who want to help and want to understand what you’re going through. If you or a loved one are struggling with the pain of addiction and want help, you can contact us here.