Why Do College Students Begin Abusing Prescriptions?

Group Therapy TreatmentThe temptation for college students to drink or to use drugs can be pretty high. It’s the first time they’re away from home, and being in a new environment can increase their anxiety greatly. Some are more apt to try to cope with that anxiety by drinking or using drugs.

Also, many students have heard through the years that colleges are full of parties, and partying is just something you do while you’re at college. So many of them will choose to drink or try certain drugs in order to fit in with the crowd, or just simply out of curiosity. It’s not that these students have the intention of becoming addicted to alcohol or drugs, but the reality is that some of them will.

There’s quite a bit of binge drinking that goes on at college campuses. Many of the students will resist drinking or drugging during the week, but once Friday hits, they tend to party quite a bit over the weekend. Binge drinking means that they drink a considerable amount of alcohol in a shorter period of time. This could be drinking 6 to 12 beers at a party, obviously getting drunk. Or, it could mean drinking beer and having shots or combining the drinking with drugs, such as marijuana, cocaine, and more.

The following are some common reasons why college students may begin abusing prescriptions on campus:

  • High stress. As mentioned before, the stress levels at college can be quite high for students. Freshman may experience more anxiety because the college experience is newer to them. Still, even for sophomores, juniors, and seniors, there can be some anxiety due to the pressures of getting good grades, perhaps working at the same time, and simply trying to figure out their lives. There are some that will begin abusing prescriptions because they simply don’t know another way to cope with all of the stress.
  • Large workload. There will be students who will begin abusing prescriptions such as Adderall, which is a stimulant, in order to give them more energy for their class work. College tends to be a bit tougher than high school, and for those who have a high course load, they can be tempted to take stimulants in order to help them feel more alert and have more energy. Once they start taking these stimulants, they can certainly begin abusing prescriptions and become addicted.
  • Peer pressure. There will be plenty of students who are drinking and using drugs at college. Sometimes it’s simply peer pressure that gets someone to begin. Or, they just may not know the dangers associated with substances. While they may innocently try something one time, they could certainly begin abusing prescriptions or illegal drugs if they really like the feeling it gives them.
  • Self-exploration. Some college students simply are curious about drugs, so they may try out of curiosity. The college years are certainly a time of self-exploration, and if they hear others who are using drugs and experiencing some great high or some insight about life and purpose, they may simply give it a try. The problem is that they can begin abusing prescriptions or illegal drugs as a result.

What drugs are most common in college?

Though there’s a variety of drugs used on college campuses, there are some that are more popular than others. Alcohol is probably the most popular drug on campus. Most students do not even think alcohol is a drug, and they think there’s nothing wrong with drinking. They figure most everyone’s doing it, so they should do it too. What they don’t realize is that alcohol is an addictive drug, so even drinking occasionally gives them a chance of becoming addicted to it.

Marijuana is another popular drug used on college campuses. The legalization of marijuana causes many students to believe there’s nothing wrong with it. Over the past few years, marijuana use has increased tremendously on campuses, and on some campuses, more students are smoking marijuana than drinking. While marijuana is less addictive than alcohol or some other drugs, it is still addictive.

Adderall is a prescriptive medication and a stimulant that some college students use in order to increase their ability to focus and have more energy. It’s quite common for those who like to stay up all night studying or partying, as it helps people stay awake and gives them a greater amount of energy. There are plenty of students who may begin abusing prescriptions like Adderall, in order to keep up with all of their responsibilities.

Intervention can free college students from addiction

The college years can be a challenging time for many students. The need to feel accepted and to fit in is immense and sometimes teens will experiment with alcohol or drugs during those years.  Unfortunately, sometimes the “experimenting” becomes a full blown addiction for some students.

Many times, a student will try a drug, such as marijuana or Adderall, and continue to use the drug on occasion. He may then begin to drink more and more and eventually try out some other drugs.  What happens sometimes is that the student will become addicted to the “highs” that he gets from using drugs. He will want to use drugs more often and he will need a higher dose to get the same high feeling.  He can easily end up addicted and not even realize it, abusing prescriptions or alcohol.

Friends and family notice the addiction first

Friends and family members may notice before the addict does.  The student may begin partying more, staying out all night, missing school, and becoming extremely moody. He may begin stealing money from family or manipulating to get resources so he can afford more drugs.  His actions become unpredictable.

If you feel like your son or daughter is struggling with addiction, or abusing prescriptions, consider taking the necessary steps to get him help.  One way you can help is through an intervention.  An intervention occurs when a family decides to get their child some help and partners with an interventionist to plan a time to confront the teen addict and try to encourage him to commit to treatment.

The interventionist will guide you through the entire process, with the absolute best intentions for your child.  A high percentage of interventions result in an addict agreeing to treatment and getting clean.  The road to recovery will be clearly marked so you will know what to expect and know your part as well.

Utilizing a 12-Step Program

A great deal of substance abuse treatment centers encourages recovering addicts to attend a 12-step program after leaving treatment.  There are 12-step programs for all sorts of addictions, but the most common ones in association with substance abuse are Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.  These two programs alone have helped millions of addicts get clean and stay clean.

Studies show that recovering addicts who commit to a 12-step program and work the program as instructed, have a much higher chance of staying clean than those who don’t.  In a 12-step meeting, a recovering addict gets to hear other people’s stories about how they beat addiction day after day with the help of their sponsors and a network of recovering addicts.

A recovering addict can walk into a 12-step meeting and immediately feel at home.  They see men and women who struggle with the exact same issue of addiction and for many, it is a sweet relief.  Many testify that committing to a 12-step meeting saved their lives and the principles learned completely changed them. They learned how to live without relying on drugs. They found a new life full of hope and joy.

Attending a 12-Step meeting

When considering a 12-step program, keep in mind that consistent attendance is vital to maximizing benefits.  If you simply attend a meeting here or there and do not get involved or get a sponsor, the chances that you will relapse increase.  Experts state that an addict who is just getting into recovery should attend at least 4 meetings a week for the first 6 months or more. Along with this, he should get a sponsor and begin working the steps.  It is very important to really work the program in order for the program to work for you.

A 12-step program will help recovering addicts to change their perspectives. Abusing prescriptions or active addiction often causes a student to form many negative thoughts and behaviors, but a 12-step program, through working the steps, will help modify thoughts and teach a person how to live responsibly.  Each step works on an important principle for life and many addicts can attest to the fact that working steps worked miracles in their lives.

After treatment is over, attending a 12-Step program can be very helpful. 12-step programs only ask that you be open, honest, and willing.  If you or your loved one are ready to seriously start growing and changing as a recovering addict, make a commitment to join a 12-step program and continue on your journey of freedom from drugs. Embark on a new adventure of a clean life full of serenity and hope.

If you need assistance in finding a treatment center, please contact us so we can direct you to the best treatment center for you. We are here to answer any questions you may have, and give you the support that you need as you navigate this time in your life. Know that you’re not alone, and you don’t have to figure this out on your own.