Substance use, anxiety, and depression are serious health concerns. According to experts, the majority of such cases develop during young adulthood, making college students a particularly vulnerable group.
The earlier students start implementing these behaviors and habits, the bigger the risk of disrupting their personal, cognitive, and emotional development. That’s why it is not uncommon for young students to start damaging their relationships, safety, education, and health at the start of their college life.
But, this is a critical phase in a person’s development and well-being. College is a time when an individual transitions into adulthood. They try to live independently and make new behavioral health decisions.
However, their competitive nature, responsibilities, and pressure to achieve a solid academic performance can make them open to depression, anxiety, and college drug abuse. This basically becomes their only coping mechanism.
But, unless college students get their destructive habits under control, their actions will start to seriously get in the way of their personal and academic progress.
If you want to know more about college drug use, drinking, and treatment options, you’ve come to the right place. This is a detailed guideline that can create the perfect picture students are facing. Including when is the right time to contact an inpatient rehab center for young adults in Texas.
College, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Issues
- Roughly 50% of students believe they have poor or below average mental health.
- About 80% of college students feel overwhelmed by their responsibilities as a student.
- Only 7% of parents reported their child in college had mental health issues.
No one said college is easy. It’s perhaps the most complex stage of a person’s development. The peer pressure to succeed, learn, and get ready for adulthood can feel overwhelming. This is a stage of self-discovery and unbridled potential for students to build confidence, independence, experience, and relationships.
Due to their need to succeed, many adopt a façade just to impress their peers, teachers, or parents. All these factors play a key role in creating stress, depression, anxiety, and of course – temptation. When the pressure becomes too much, that’s when students look for an option that would help them cope with the problems.
Illicit drug use, alcohol, and tobacco use are more prevalent among young adults compared to any other age group. Although their preference will vary, excessive drinking remains the topmost occurring problem for students between the ages of 18 and 22.
With easy access to alcohol and drugs, students can quickly dismantle their serious persona and thrive to achieve self-assuredness, confidence, and joy. According to surveys, students start using substances in the early stages of their college life.
Reports show that 60.1% of full-time college students consumed alcohol in the past month of the survey, with 1.2 million engaging in heavy drinking and 3.5 million in binge drinking. While almost 2 million of the evaluated student population turned to drugs, mostly marijuana and hallucinogens.
The problem with college drug abuse is that very few students realize the sheer impact of their bad habits. They might look like a fun way to pass the time or forget about troubles. But, they can cause some irreparable damage if left unmanaged. Addiction can lead to numerous physiological, psychological, and personal effects.
According to a survey report on mental health, emotional instability is a much bigger issue than people realize. Approximately 40% of students don’t seek help for their emotional unrest. But, the longer they postpone treatment, the bigger the risk of these problems escalating.
Mental health problems can take multiple forms, for example, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, addiction, and suicide. In fact, suicide is the third leading cause of death among young students. Statistics indicate that 79% of suicide cases happen in the middle- and low-income countries, with a significant portion being young adults.
Living independently often means that the family may not realize the extent of the problem. So, it is important to be open about it.
COVID-19 pandemic creates an even bigger impact. In 2020, scientists surveyed almost 200 graduate and college students to study their emotional readiness for the fall semester, including the uncertainties that come with the coronavirus.
A total of 63% of students stated their emotional state was worse before the pandemic. Whereas 56% were very worried about whether they can take good care of their emotional health. About 82% of those evaluated struggled with anxiety, 62% with poor concentration, 63% with depression, and 68% from loneliness or isolation.
To be able to manage it, people must be fully aware of their mental and physical state. Once they acknowledge their addiction and mental health issues, they can make the most of the currently available addiction treatment resources for college students.
Obstacles and Challenges Students Have to Face
When you take a look at the statistics from the early 2000s and those after 2014, it is easy to notice the steady decline in overall mental health. In the last two decades, there has been a significant increase in the demand for mental health treatment on college campuses. Experts often refer to 2014 as the mental health crisis for college students.
Based on 2018 reports from Psychiatric Services, the treatment rates went up from 19% in 2007 to a staggering 34% in 2017. Even the percentage of students with lifetime diagnoses went up from 22% to 36%.
Back in the 80s, roughly 1 in 10 college students used, wanted or required mental health treatment. Now that number is about 1 in 3 students, and these trends only keep increasing. With the constantly escalating rates of mental health issues, it is important to know what’s causing them.
Here is a detailed outlook on the challenges most college students face. These challenges often make them turn to addiction or substance use. With problems such as these, it is important to make use of addiction treatment resources for college students. This is the fastest and most efficient way to restore healthy living.
- Societal and Social Media Pressure
Social media is responsible for making mental health issues worse, stated the National Institutes of Health in a recent 2020 study. People are social in nature and in need of companionship to progress in life. When they can’t get that connection, it makes them prone to sadness, anxiety, and stress.
Based on their reports, women are more likely to experience mental health issues than men who use social media. The way people view them and interact with them has a profound impact on their overall health. For college students, this can be an even bigger problem.
Students like to compare themselves to high-achieving classmen. That includes grades, academic performance, traveling, finding intimate partners, etc. Social media only exacerbates the problem. Social media platforms create more doubt and uncertainty, making young people feel inadequate.
A student who can’t excel on campus or other aspects of life tends to feel isolated and insecure. To top it all off, the majority of those affected are hundreds or thousands of miles away from their family. This adds a whole layer of pressure.
Then, there is substance abuse. Substance misuse among students is mainly driven by their social environment. Who they spend time with and their self-worth have a major role to play. The drinking culture (excessive and dangerous drinking) is particularly pronounced in sororities and fraternities.
When a massive portion is using marijuana, which is the go-to illicit drug, everyone else sees it as a “rite of passage.” So, they want to try it for themselves. This kind of social influence and mistaken beliefs are creating acceptability of substance use among students.
- Stigma and Taboo
The stigma around drug use, mental health, and suicide can put students on edge. Although the stigma about mental health issues is decreasing, drug use still remains a difficult problem to talk about, experts explain.
Addiction is a disease and should be treated as such. It is a chronic illness that comes with multiple changes to the brain. It is not a moral weakness, nor does it signify a person’s lack of willpower to control it.
As individuals, people tend to face a considerable amount of problems. The disease of addiction only adds more fuel to the fire, diminishing their ability to succeed in life. The problem is that many people who start using substances see themselves as a “disgrace” to the family.
This is impairing their judgment, behavior and causes romantic and occupational problems. For many years, the combination of public stigma and personal shame has created numerous obstacles for the younger generation. But, unless people see it as a health issue rather than a weakness, it can be difficult to overcome the dependency.
With the inpatient rehab center for young adults in Texas, students will learn how to beat the stigma and overcome their addiction. Here, they can get all the help and support they need to get their life back on track.
- Expectations and Lack of Motivation
A major portion of college students are full of potential but lack a clear ambition of what it is they want to achieve in life. It is not that they don’t have the vision, but because they have so many that are making them feel like their goals are out of reach.
Others don’t have motivation due to other factors. Either because they see no value in their studies or don’t believe their efforts will pay off. Sadly this lack of motivation is hindering their initiative and success.
To solve this, students shouldn’t be bent on getting their achievements but working on their motivation. The more eager they are at doing something, the easier it is to find the passion for reaching those goals.
With addiction treatment resources for college students, people can learn how to regain their motivation and drop their addictive habits—providing them with an opportunity to rebuild their self-esteem and self-worth.
- Perfectionism and Procrastination
The idea of being perfect in college can create extreme stress and pressure. Research on social behavior and personality claims that procrastination appears from very high standards. That’s why there is a clear link between procrastination and perfectionism.
Procrastinators display multiple cognitive characteristics associated with perfectionism, like the tendency to get continual and guaranteed success. Both behaviors have irrational beliefs and fear of failure.
In college, obtaining perfection is not as easy as it looks. But, putting in the extra effort means that people will also have to face a lot of bumps along the way. When these obstacles become overwhelming, that’s when students try to find an easy way out.
Something that can help them cope with all those setbacks. College drug abuse and alcohol use stem from it. These substances, however, can turn into a real problem. With long-term use, they can create habits that are difficult to break. Sometimes, these habits can persist later in life.
How Can Parents Break the Cycle?
Even while their children are in college and away from home, parents can still influence their substance or alcohol use. It is a good idea to start creating and expressing positive expectations that will get the student to behave responsibly and stick to the laws and rules of the school.
Parents can advise their children that they too, had their fair share of experience. But, to inspire a student to act accordingly, it is important to give them realistic expectations and good examples of enjoying campus events in moderation.
Reaching out for help for college drug abuse can also come in handy. With options like the inpatient rehab center for young adults in Texas, students can go a long way. But, probably, one of the key factors to reducing the risk of substance and alcohol abuse is to talk about the consequences.
Young adults don’t really understand the gravity of their addiction or substance use. So, they fail to notice what it is doing to their health. According to experts, substance misuse in college is a frequent problem with serious negative consequences. These can include violent outbursts and fatal events.
When people get drunk, they can cause unintentional injuries, harm themselves or those around them. Since alcohol is a popular choice of product, these consequences are a regular occurrence.
A survey of undergraduates who often consumed alcohol showed that 42% engaged in unplanned sexual intercourse due to their alcohol use. Alcohol-exposed pregnancies in college are an even bigger risk. Ineffective use of contraception paired with binge drinking often leads to unplanned pregnancies.
Then there is depression and lack of sleep. The longer they abuse substances, the harder it is to enjoy a restful sleep. Therefore, exposing them to potential mental health issues. To learn how to manage an ongoing problem with alcohol and college drug abuse, it is best to seek treatment.
How Can Colleges Help?
Colleges have taken a very serious approach when dealing with conditions that could trigger dangerous effects on mental health among students. As well as how that will translate into college drug abuse. These are the kind of addiction treatment resources for college students that are constantly available for use.
For example, some universities have a list of prescription medicine, their effects, and the possibility of addiction covered on their website. This information is provided the same way as typical safe sex practices. There is also free counseling and, in certain areas, free STD testing.
Other colleges are taking a more creative approach. They focus on improving the mental health state by providing therapy in the middle of finals week. This is to help ease the stress and pressure that builds up over time. Therefore, reducing the temptation to abuse substances.
The majority are also focusing on de-stigmatizing mental health. Many do fun and student-inspired projects where they talk more about mental health issues and how they affect the human body. They cover the impact of depression, stress, and anxiety and how that can contribute to drug abuse. For more details, students should consult with their campus health service department or contact the inpatient rehab center for young adults in Texas.
When to Ask For Help?
Many college students are hesitant to get treatment for their alcohol or drug problems. Most don’t think they even have an addiction. Instead, they see it as a phase where they can just let go and have fun.
Data shows that at least 20% of college students meet the criteria for alcohol use disorder. And around 60% end up in the hospital for drinking in the past month. What most people don’t realize is that accepting treatment shows commitment to personal health and ensures individual and professional success.
The sooner people accept treatment, the easier it is to maintain sobriety. Those who have trouble quitting any substance, whether it is drugs or alcohol, should contact the nearest treatment center and get their health state under control.
Currently Available Treatment
Addiction is a complicated but treatable disease. The longer it remains unmanaged, the more it impairs behavior and normal function. Because every person is different, there is no single treatment that will work perfectly for everyone.
The currently available treatment options include:
- Behavioral counseling
- Withdrawal symptoms management
- Treatment and assessment of co-occurring disorders
- Relapse prevention with long-term follow-ups
Effective treatment addresses the patient’s exact needs, not just their use of drugs or alcohol. But, to achieve the desired result, patients must remain in treatment for as long as necessary. Medication paired with counseling is often recommended when dealing with college drug abuse.
The treatments are modified based on a patient’s needs. So, it is difficult to tell exactly how long it will take the affected individual to overcome their addiction. What people should know is that these treatments are constantly monitored.
That’s because consistency and adherence are the main contributors to success. If necessary, doctors can suggest family or community-based support systems that can help with the recovery.
Behavioral counseling is a crucial part of recovery. With therapy, college students get to learn how to establish healthy life skills, modify their behaviors and attitude towards drug use, and use other forms of treatment to achieve sober living.
Students struggling with college drug abuse can get treatment in different settings and approaches. Here is how they look like.
- Outpatient Behavioral Therapy
Those who want to make use of addiction treatment resources for college students can rely on outpatient counseling and therapy. These programs include group, individual counseling, or both. They also come in different forms, such as motivational interviewing, contingency management, family therapy, and cognitive-behavioral therapy.
These therapies are intensive at the start. But, the more students get used to them, the easier it is to overcome the different challenges. After lengthy treatment, students will learn how to sustain their recovery and enjoy healthy living.
- Inpatient Behavioral Therapy
Inpatient therapy, like the one you can get at the inpatient rehab center for young adults in Texas, provides a much more effective option for managing college drug abuse. This is particularly beneficial for those with a co-occurring disorder.
Here, patients get access to a controlled treatment facility with licensed experts who can attend to their every need. It is about providing students with a structured environment where they are least likely to relapse.
A residential unit also offers multiple treatment approaches. Their main goal is to provide patients with a drug-free and safe environment. It can be used for both long-term and short-term treatments.
Medications are used in about 80% of detoxifications. Specific medications are meant to target withdrawal symptoms, avoid a relapse, and manage the condition. Those who don’t get further treatment after a detox usually resumes their substance abuse.
One of the key reasons why the body needs medicine is to reduce the possibility of relapse. The chemical consistency of meds can help the brain re-establish its normal function and curb cravings. Different medicines will work on specific types of substance use.
For example, buprenorphine and methadone are used to manage opioid addiction. While gums, sprays, or patches are often recommended to tobacco users. When dealing with alcohol addiction, doctors can suggest one of the three FDA-approved medications, such as Naltrexone, Acamprosate, or Disulfiram.
They all have their unique features and characteristics to get the body back on the right track. Patients who struggle with co-occurring conditions, such as anxiety and addiction, will need to use a combination of therapies paired with medication.
The medication is meant to alleviate the restlessness and unpleasant reactions from flushing the substances from the system. While at the same time allows patients to get motivated about quitting their addiction.
Withdrawal Symptoms Management
The exact withdrawal duration is influenced by the type of substance the patient has been using. As well as the severity of their dependence on that substance. For some college students, it can take a couple of days for the withdrawals to disappear. But, at other times, the withdrawal can last for days, weeks, to even months.
Here is a general overview of the withdrawal timeline based on the substance use:
- Alcohol – The first signs of alcohol withdrawal emerge a couple of hours after the last drink. They reach their peak at about 24h to 48h. In severe cases of alcohol addiction, the risk of seizures is high in the first 12h to 48h. The symptoms of withdrawal can persist for 3 days.
- Benzos – About 1 to 4 days after the last dose, the withdrawal begins to kick in. The highest peak is within the first 2 weeks. Depending on the level of dependence, the symptoms can persist for months or even years.
- Long-acting opioids – Substances like methadone can cause withdrawals 2 to 4 days after the last dose. The discomfort, however, tends to subside in the next 10 days.
- Short-acting opioids – Products like painkillers and heroin trigger withdrawal in just 8h to 24h after the last dose. This can last about 4 to 10 days.
The withdrawal interferes with the natural reward system, motivation, and circuitry of the central nervous system. Making it difficult for users to quit their substance abuse. Medical detox, like the one available at the inpatient rehab center for young adults in Texas, helps patients get through the withdrawal process.
A team of experienced doctors and nurses helps alleviate the discomfort and reduce the possibility of withdrawal complications and symptoms, like seizures, for example. With an approach such as this one, users get to stop their drug or alcohol abuse safely and effectively.
Treatment and Assessment of Co-Occurring Disorders
When dealing with co-occurring disorders, like substance use and mental health issues, it is crucial to learn how to tackle the addiction and deal with the depression at the same time. Studies show that stress-related disorders among college students are a common problem and largely preventable.
What people need are full-proof methods that can help them regain control. In co-occurring disorders, also known as dual diagnoses, people develop their own unique symptoms. These symptoms can get in the way of their daily functioning.
To make matters worse, co-occurring disorders can interfere with each other. Meaning that if you don’t manage your mental health, college drug abuse can get worse. And when the drug abuse increases, so do the mental health issues.
The most effective way to treat the problem would be to manage the mental disorder and substance abuse issue simultaneously. With the inpatient rehab center for young adults in Texas, you can get exactly that.
An expert healthcare team will target specific issues. When treating a mental health problem, doctors can suggest a group or individual counseling, medication, peer support, and lifestyle changes. For substance abuse, the treatment begins with detoxification and controlling the withdrawal symptoms.
After the body has stabilized, doctors can suggest support groups or behavioral therapy maintain sobriety. Even though it is difficult to overcome addiction or substance use, it is important not to get discouraged. The healing process takes time and effort. But, this is a time well-spent.
Relapse Prevention With Long-Term Follow-ups
Even though a young student is motivated to change their life and stop the college drug abuse, they will most likely encounter situations that will encourage them to get back to square one. This could happen at an event simply because they are feeling down or have cravings and anxiety.
Whatever the circumstance may be, relapse prevention and management can help patients eliminate or reduce their drug use. With relapse prevention therapy, which is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy, people get to prevent and limit their relapses by learning how to anticipate certain situations that would contribute to relapse.
Experts will teach them how to create strategies that would help them cope with high-risk situations in advance. For example, every student can develop feelings that make them turn to drugs. They could be feeling lonely, frustrated, anxious, or bored.
With therapy, patients get to recognize these feelings and devise an action plan that would help control their addictive behavior. Instead of misinterpreting their actions and behaviors, young patients get to boost their coping skills harmlessly and effectively. This is a highly efficient long-term strategy, especially for those who are dedicated to a healthy recovery.
The pressure and stress in college are making many students turn to drugs and alcohol. But, this growing trend is paving the way for addiction and serious health complications. Striving to succeed in a constantly competitive environment can also take a toll on a student’s mental health. That’s why it is important to ask for expert help whenever necessary. With the guideline listed here, young adults can figure out the sheer impact of addiction and the ways treatment can help.
John Eckelbarger is a Business Development Representative for Stonegate Center. With a BSA in Chemistry from the University of Texas at Austin, he has an interest in the neurobiology of addiction & pharmacology of drugs. He hopes to bolster Stonegate Center to the forefront of addiction medicine through bold, innovative content. He is currently pursuing his MBA in Finance from Texas Christian University.