Going to college has always been a time when young adults, freed from the rules and supervision of their parents, are likely to give in to peer pressure and the desire to try new things. It can also be a stressful period, especially for someone who is going far from home for the first time. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that four out of five college students drink alcohol. 47 percent of college students have tried marijuana.
These young adults are facing all sorts of pressure they’ve never experienced before – to get good grades, to find a job or internship, to find a boyfriend or girlfriend, to get over the end of a relationship, or to manage their own money. The classes might be harder than the young person is used to, or they might have trouble being responsible for themselves (such as getting to classes on time). These along with any other factors that cause feelings of anxiety or depression can make drug use and heavy drinking seem attractive.
In addition to substance use as a means of coping, students also do drugs or drink in order to break the ice at parties, to help them relax and have fun, to bond with their peers or possible romantic partners, and to feel better about themselves. Spring break, in particular, is a time when college students are all but expected to participate in heavy drinking. Greek organizations, or fraternities and sororities, are notorious for peer pressure, hazing rituals, and risky behavior frequently involving alcohol. Unfortunately, many college administrators tend to look the other way when it comes to these behaviors, viewing them as simply a rite of passage.
One way students deal with the academic pressure is to use what is sometimes known as “study drugs” or “smart pills,” which are pills that boost alertness and mental activity. They are prescription medications like Adderall and Ritalin, which are available by prescription but meant to be taken for the treatment of certain medical conditions such as attention deficit hyper disorder. It can be fairly easy to obtain these drugs. They can be procured from friends who do have a legitimate prescription (80 percent of students got their Adderall from friends who had prescriptions, according to one study), bought from other students, or obtained on false pretenses at a doctor’s office.
These stimulants can be instantly addictive and have serious side effects including mood swings, anxiety and depression, sleep disorders, uncontrollable trembling, loss of sexual desire or function, and stomach pain, nausea, and vomiting.
College students are also likely to abuse over the counter drugs because they are easily available. One example is drinking an entire bottle of a cough medicine such as Nyquil in order to get a buzz.
If you or a loved one need help to quit drugs or alcohol, consider Asana Recovery. We offer medical detox, along with both residential and outpatient programs, and you’ll be supervised by a highly trained staff of medical professionals, counselors, and therapists. Call us any time at (949) 438-4504.