Attending college is an amazing experience. For the first time, you can study what you want and take control of your schedule. You’ll also be surrounded by like-minded peers that are just as excited about college as you are.
But college isn’t all fun all the time. It can also be incredibly stressful and put you at risk for alcohol and drug use. Also, it’s possible that mental health issues that have been present in your life can intensify with the stresses of college.
Freedom is exciting, but it can also come at a cost. That’s why it’s important to protect yourself and recognize the signs of a potential drug or alcohol problem.
When “Normal” is No Longer Normal
College students are known for being silly. It comes with the territory, so to speak. And for some students, they’re able to drink in a social manner and have no desire to do it again. But for others, they end up using alcohol to cope with their problems or to feel more relaxed at social events.
In the college environment, it’s not always easy to spot a substance abuse problem. Because alcohol is part of the college culture, you may think that what you’re doing is completely acceptable.
However, if you find that you need alcohol to function in your daily life, you may be falling into a pattern of addiction. Or perhaps you are using drugs to get through your day. College students often believe that prescription drugs like stimulants will help them pull all-nighters or focus better. This is not true.
Do You Have a Problem with Drugs or Alcohol?
If you think that you may be developing a dependency to drugs or alcohol, it’s important to get help. Your college should have some type of low-cost mental health services that provide counseling. These services can also refer you to a treatment center if your problem is more severe.
In the meantime, here are some questions to ask yourself. If you answer “yes” to any of them, it’s possible that you may have a problem with drugs or alcohol.
· Do you need drugs or alcohol at the end of a “bad” day?
· Do you go without the things you need (books, food, etc.) so that you can buy drugs or alcohol?
· Do you skip class to use drugs or alcohol? Or are you unable to attend class because you are high or hungover?
· Do you ever forget what happened the night before because of your drug or alcohol use?
· Do your friends seem to think that you use alcohol or drugs more than what’s considered “normal”?
· Do you make rules for yourself (I’m only going to have 3 drinks), and then find that you can’t keep them?
· Do you ever feel guilty about how much drugs or alcohol you use?
· Do you feel that drugs or alcohol are interfering with your daily life?
Just because there is a lot of freedom in college doesn’t mean that you should be filling your time with partying. If you feel that the freedom that comes with college is too much to handle, reach out to a professional counselor who can address your substance abuse and treat any co-occurring disorders.