Addiction 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.