Substance Abuse in College – Reasons, Help, and Possible Treatment

Substance use among college students is a critical problem in the United States. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health revealed that 6.4 percent of full-time students aged 18-22 took drugs in the previous month. Alcohol use on college campuses has also been a worrying concern for decades. So, it doesn’t come as a surprise that 53.6 percent of full-time students drank alcohol in the past month.

The problem is substance abuse has the potential to develop in disorder. Young people often think that having a drink or pill occasionally won’t do any harm. But both physical and mental factors can escalate quickly.

Why students use different substances?

College students are knowledgeable enough to name at least a few negative consequences of addiction. That’s because the majority of prevention methods and education are targeted at teenagers. And if they have some questions or problems, they can call national drug abuse hotline numbers: free addiction help 24/7.

Understanding that “this is bad” inexplicably fails to stop some young people from trying tobacco, alcohol beverages, and illicit substances. The circumstances that are thrust upon them can push them to extremes. And here they are:

  • Academic stress (high expectations, failures);
  • Peer pressure (a desire to fit in or believing that it’s normal: “Everybody does it”);
  • Low self-esteem (using substances to remove communication barriers or justify one’s faults or out-of-control behavior);
  • A false positive image of substance abuse in songs, movies, and other social media (it’s “cool” or “no big deal”);
  • Mere experimenting because of curiosity (that’s how smoking habit usually starts);
  • Instant gratification (turning to substance use to achieve instant happiness without thinking of the consequences);
  • Genetic predisposition (parents’ alcohol or drug habits make their children more likely to develop these harmful habits later in life).

What Types of Drugs Are Most Commonly Abused?

Though such substances as heroin, methadone, crack, and methamphetamine, have recently decreased in popularity, the rates of many other substances have remained stable or increased over time.

The youth keeps to smoke cannabis and use cocaine and stimulants (the amphetamine-type, LSD, MDMA), sedative and hypnotic drugs (barbiturates and other tranquilizers). Those who go in for sports use anabolic steroids to boost their physical strength and muscle mass.

Within the last two decades, the use of so-called “study drugs” has been increasing. One study found out that more than half of 10,000 students who take Adderall, Ritalin or other Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) prescription drug were asked to sell the medication to peers and friends.

What Is the Solution?

If you or someone you know have/has problems with substance abuse and don’t know how to cope with it, a call to a drug and alcohol hotline will help you. As a caller, you can expect the following benefits:

  • understanding the level of the problem;
  • deciding on the proper treatment;
  • receiving the list of places and people to contact for further help;
  • getting emotional support;
  • receiving answers on any addiction related questions.

Calling a substance abuse hotline allows you getting free distant consultation while staying confidential. Don’t let doubts or shame stop you from this. Hotline operators are there to provide support and give advice, not to make judgmental comments or reprimands.

What’s a Typical College Student Rehabilitation Program?

Most rehabilitation programs follow a similar route, though it may vary depending on the center attended and the individual needs of the student. Typical stages of rehabilitation include:

Assessment. An addiction specialist diagnoses the addiction and creates a personalized treatment plan.

Detoxification. It’s the removal of toxic chemicals that accumulate in the body as a result of prolonged alcohol or drug abuse. It involves surviving the withdrawal syndrome which can be severe in the first couple of days. Detox is best to do in rehab where patients are under medical supervision.

Treatment. Recovery continues with treating the psychological aspect of dependence. It includes therapy sessions. Most often, patients participate in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). It helps to define the underlying causes of addiction, develop effective skills to cope with these issues without alcohol or drugs, and cultivate practical skills to avoid relapse.

Aftercare. When students return to their usual environment, they can face old temptations. Outpatient care in the form of counseling or peer support meetings can prevent relapse.

How to Choose a Rehab?

According to NIDA, addiction is “a complex but treatable disease”, but “no single treatment is appropriate for everyone”. How to find the right rehab?

Of course, you may call an addiction recovery hotline and make inquiries about local centers and their services. But first, specify your needs.

For students with anxiety, depression, or other mental disorder, it’s best to choose a rehab that treats both substance dependence and mental conditions. If a person needs to fix the relationship with parents, a rehab that offers family therapy will be appropriate.

Holistic centers will meet the needs of an alternative medicine’s fan. Yoga, animal therapy, acupuncture, message, or art therapy can contribute to the healing of the soul.

There’re also age-specific rehabs, gender-specific rehabs, facilities for pregnant women, and religious centers. Some treatment programs cater to abusers of specific drugs.

Finding a more personal program that addresses your specific issues will increase your success in recovery. Clarify what you need and call a helpline. You’ll get rehab numbers and will be able to make inquiries before making a final choice.

For a student struggling with addiction, there are certain factors to consider when choosing between an outpatient and inpatient type of rehab. If you want to continue with coursework while undergoing medical procedures and therapies, you’ll need a flexible schedule to keep up with your studies and rehab appointments. But if your doctor recommends taking more intensive treatment, you might need to take time off from college and live in treatment facilities.

What is the length of treatment? Detoxification usually takes about 4 days. Inpatient treatment commonly lasts 16-30 days. Severe cases of addiction may take 90 days. Outpatient treatment may take up to 130 days.

While treatment will take your time, efforts, and money, you shouldn’t think of it as a waste of resources. You’ll lose more if you avoid professional help and refuse to restart your life.

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