How College and University Students can Fight Addiction

college students fight addictionAddiction is a difficult thing for anyone to get through, let alone a college student who is being bombarded with a multitude of new information and choices. It is a difficult time in life even without the hardships of addiction. If you are a college student struggling with addiction or watching a fellow college student struggle, take action. Here is a list of ways to combat addiction and get your life back on track:

  • Fill your free time with healthy activities, such as exercise, meditation or socializing. Addiction has a harder time thriving in an active life. This remedy is good for addictions that are mild or moderate in nature.
  • Set goals for your future. Sometimes just having a goal to work toward wards off addiction through the anticipation of reaching it. Again, mild or moderate cases of addiction can experience addiction recovery through this method.
  • Reach out to your support system. This is one of the first things you should do in any case of addiction, regardless of how mild or severe the addiction is. Letting people know that you are struggling and asking for support and encouragement will help you feel less isolated and will bring you the positivity you need to reset your course. If your support system is part of the reason you are addicted, form a different support system that will take your addiction seriously.
  • Attend a support group on campus or in the community. Many college campuses have addiction and mental health support groups that can help you understand what is happening to you and how to gain control of it. If your campus does not, there is surely a support group off campus within the community that a student adviser can help you locate.
  • Commit to rehabilitation. If an addiction has become severe and the addict or anyone around them is at risk, they are in need of residential rehabilitation. This is the most intensive kind of addiction treatment available and has the highest success rate of any type of treatment. To learn where to go for rehabilitation, search online under ‘alcohol detox centers near me’ or ‘drug rehabs in my area’ and a list of local selections will be available to you.
  • Reside in a sober living facility. Sober living houses, or halfway houses, are┬áthe less intensive version of residential rehabilitation. They are located in rehab facilities and offer access to counselors and treatment material, but the client is free to come and go as the please, remaining active in their life.

What Addiction Looks Like in College and University Students

addicted college studentAddiction is prevalent in the university age crowd, but how can one tell the difference between a university student who is addicted and one who is merely “having a good time?” There are certainly characteristics that distinguish addiction from being young and having fun. This blog does not condone any reckless behavior in any college student but does encourage college students to be able to recognize addictive behavior verses normal behavior, either in yourself or in a fellow collegiate. It could mean the difference between life and death.

Because substance abuse is the most common form of addiction among college students, it is the easiest one to recognize. Substance abuse has very recognizable characteristics, such as an altered appearance and altered behavior. Substance abuse can cause weight fluctuation, skin tone deterioration, bags under the eyes, bloodshot eyes, unhealthy skin, unhealthy teeth, body odor and a general deterioration of hygiene. All addictions, regardless of whether they are substance related or activity related, cause people to act moody, reclusive, secretive, unpredictable and unlike themselves.

Another obvious red flag for addiction among college students is the state of their academic careers. Addiction strips everyone of their focus. Drive and a sense of purpose are replaced by obsessive thoughts of the addiction. In a college student, this is observable when the student starts missing classes, skipping assignments and slipping in their academic performance. Addiction takes a heavy toll on a person’s work ethic and ability to function, which has ruined the academic careers of many students.

The personal relationships of college students also take a heavy hit while the student is addicted. Friends, peers and classmates see less and less of the student. Parents get fewer and fewer phone calls. This can be a sign of addiction or mental disorder, and it is an important one to keep an eye on. Withdrawal is a characteristic behavior of someone going through something serious. If you have noticed these behaviors within yourself or within someone else, reach out for help from a mental health professional right away.

Why College and University Students Become Addicts

addicted college studentAddiction is an epidemic that is spreading through university campuses and college dorm rooms in the form of substance abuse, promiscuity, eating disorders and more. Addiction hits college age people through environmental influences, peer pressure and stress. Some cases of addiction are brought about because of mental disorders while other cases of addiction spawn mental disorders. This age group is particularly susceptible to bad decision making because it is the first time in their lives that they are on their own.

The environmental influences that surround college students are things that many of them are encountering for the first time, such as drugs, alcohol and offers of sex. Often times, people do not know themselves until they are put into life situations that they have never experienced before, and many college age people discover weaknesses they have for pleasurable substances and acts that they were not previously aware of.

Sometimes, it is peer pressure that leads college students to addiction. This is just as real during college years as it is in high school and grade school years. Many people who are introverted or lack confidence feel labeled as “lame” or “a downer” if they do not party and be experimental, so they allow substances and sex to be pushed on them. One way a person might discover they have addictive tendencies is when they are unable to give up something that someone else pushed on them.

And lastly, stress is a major cause of addiction among university and college students. Stress is a primary cause of addiction in any demographic, but college age people are particularly prone to stress for a number of reasons. One is that college is legitimately difficult and stressful. Expectations are high and course loads are heavy. Another reason is that college is the age range when many people discover addictive tendencies and mental disorders they did not previously know were there. This can cause a total breakdown of the person’s coping abilities.

The Life of a College Student

college student lifeThe world is changing ever faster, and each up and coming generation has to adapt to change with more and more agility. This world is proven to have a rate of change that is constantly speeding up rather than slowing down. This reality is not an easy one to adjust to, and young people bare a heavy burden in making sense of the world they live in. College students in particular face some of the most difficult life changes today. Not only are they absorbing an incredible amount of information as students, but they are also in what is statistically the most volatile years of a person’s life.

Individuals in their early to mid twenties are more likely to have mental breaks than any other age group. Psychologists have determined that this is the age range most likely to reveal mental disorders, mental illnesses and addictive tendencies. This is due to the fact that this age group is right in the middle of transitioning from adolescence to adulthood. For some, this transition occurs sooner or later than early to mid twenties, but on the whole, people tend to become financially, emotionally and psychologically independent from their parents and their rearing. Some people are well prepared for this moment and take the growing pains in stride while others suffer immensely from their lack of preparedness or stability. Sadly, the stress of these years is what has lead to numerous school shootings, suicides and other violent incidences.

This is not to say that these years are not full of great reward as well. Many people call college the best time of their life. It is a time of immense liberation, enlightenment and opportunity. Many people find who they are meant to be in college and firm up an admirable identity through their education and exposure to global matters. However, it is very hard to predict who will come out of college stronger than they were when they started and who will come out of college shaken to their core by the weight of the world. The best thing you can do for a college student you care about is encourage them and remind them that they are cared about.