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Colleges have often been associated with the prevalent use of drugs and alcohol, and where the substance abuse can be a serious problem. Young people will experience the freedom and independence of making decisions on their own for the first time as they live on campus many miles from home and unfortunately there can be danger in some of those decisions.
Counselors, parents, and guardians should consider how culture could influence drug use among college students. College drinking culture may leave students more vulnerable to alcohol and drug abuse.
College culture may influence drug abuse in the following ways:
- Exploration: Young adults are curious about exploring new aspects of their lives. Without proper guidance, students may be likely to fall into alcoholism and drug use.
- Peer pressure: College students may be anxious about facing a new life and may seek the company of peers as a social safety net. Unfortunately, this may lead individuals to substance abuse and binge drinking if they spend time with others who misuse alcohol and drugs.
- Academic pressure: Students face considerable pressure to succeed in their classes and exams. The use of prescription drugs has become widespread as students try to complete their coursework and earn top grades. One study found that 35% of undergraduates have used amphetamines, primarily for academic reasons. In comparison, 20% of students used similar prescription drugs for recreational purposes.
- Stress: High expectations, heavy course loads, and adjustments to new living situations may make students feel anxious, stressed, and depressed. Research from Harvard Medical School of more than 100 institutions found that stress and depression are prevalent in colleges. The study also reported that one in five students experienced suicidal thoughts at least once in the previous year.
Different addiction treatment strategies have positive impacts on college students and others. Early addiction intervention is particularly helpful. One study indicates the importance of seeking help early to treat college addiction problems before they become worse.
Treatment for addiction can be categorized into two main groups, inpatient and outpatient. It is important to understand these two options when seeking addiction treatment for college students.
An inpatient rehabilitation program can be defined as a program that requires clients to stay at facilities for specified periods of time. The time periods will depend on certain factors, such as the extent of the addiction and the type of substances abused. Typically, the duration is between three weeks and three months.
Benefits of inpatient addiction treatment for college students include:
- Inpatient care separates individuals from external influences. This may be advantageous for college students who may experience relapses due to peer pressure.
- Inpatient care is considered to be a more intensive and therefore may reduce chances of a relapse from sobriety.
- Inpatient luxury rehabilitation is often more expensive than other inpatient programs, but it offers amenities that enhance the comfort level of clients who are undergoing addiction treatment.
- Inpatient programs utilize alternative therapies such as art, music, meditation, and adventure therapy. The therapies help reduce stress and withdrawal symptoms while keeping clients’ minds occupied.
Another option for addiction treatment for college students is outpatient rehabilitation. During outpatient rehabilitation, clients live at home while they attend programs, typically for a specified number of hours per week.
- The biggest advantage of outpatient rehabilitation is flexibility. The programs allow clients to continue pursuing their day-to-day activities, allowing college students to receive treatment and still complete their courses and fulfill other responsibilities.
- Another advantage is that outpatient options are often less costly than inpatient rehabilitation options. Outpatient treatment may be a better option for students who already have student loans and other expenses and have limited options to fund their rehabilitation.
- Even though they are more affordable, outpatient programs incorporate effective evidence-based strategies that include group and one-on-one counseling as well as CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and dual diagnosis treatment that treats both addictions and mental illnesses.
There are several options suitable for individuals seeking addiction treatment for college students. Some of the programs include:
- Detox centers: Individuals working towards recovery from substance and alcohol abuse require detoxification (detox) to remove the substances that are still within their systems. Detox centers help to reduce the effects of withdrawal by implementing suitable treatment protocols as well as round-the-clock monitoring by qualified professionals.
- Holistic drug rehabilitation: These treatments seek to address the mind, body, and spirit to ensure better outcomes for people who have not been adequately served by traditional programs such as AA and NA. While some people find such traditional programs useful in treating addictions, there are many people who feel these programs have not been effective and therefore may require different approaches.
- SMART Recovery: This program is based on a modern approach that equips people with tools that they can use to make independent decisions about their recoveries. It involves meetings both in person and online that may be convenient for college students seeking rehabilitation.
- Dual diagnosis treatment: This form of treatment may be an integral part of any rehabilitation program as it addresses both substance abuse problems and any underlying mental health issues.
After addiction treatment, you can take certain steps to get back on track academically:
- Define your goals: Before rehabilitation, alcohol and drug addiction may have dominated your life and made you lose track of your goals. As you start a new chapter in your life, take time to redefine your academic goals. This can help you obtain a better sense of what you need to prioritize so you can avoid the drugs that once took over your life.
- Find positive influences: You may have a healthier recovery if you eliminate the negative influences in your social circle that propelled you toward addiction. Find new friends who share your dreams and goals to prevent you from losing focus on your healing and your academics.
- Take care of your body and mind: Exercise, good nutrition, and adopting a positive outlook on life may reduce distress and stress. You also need to ensure you that you obtain a good night’s sleep to keep both your mind and body healthy.
- Relapse: It is important to understand that relapses are common and rehabilitation is a continuous process. Relapses can cause feelings of shame and regret that intensify distress and lead to renewed substance abuse. The most important thing is to take steps to get back on track after your relapse.
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