A Complete Guide to Avoiding Addiction for College Students
Did you know that for college students aged 18-22, the substance abuse trends for alcohol use, binge drinking, and cocaine use were higher than for those not enrolled in college?
Substance abuse and misuse are strong predictors of a student’s well-being. The use of substances is associated with lower grades, chronic health problems, and new or worsened mental health conditions.
If you are a college student, parent, or guardian looking for tips to avoid addiction, we are here to help.
Keep reading for a comprehensive addiction guide for college students.
Be Vocal with Your Choices
In college, you will be meeting and making friendships that will last a lifetime. Finding the right people to associate with and setting those friendships up for success is crucial. One of the best things you can do for yourself is to be upfront and honest with them and your choice not to use drugs or alcohol.
It may feel uncomfortable at first to be vulnerable about your lifestyle choices, but it is worth the effort. Establishing boundaries early on makes you less likely to be pressured to partake in drugs and alcohol later.
Some people may peer pressure you with the idea that marijuana is not a harmful drug, so it shouldn’t matter, or that everyone is drinking, so you should too. These statements are not factual. Marijuana is considered a gateway drug, and the dangers of alcohol use and abuse are well documented. Just because others choose to put their lives in danger does not mean you should.
Whatever the arguments you hear from your peers, stand in your conviction to avoid drugs and alcohol. If you think that you can successfully have a little drink and be fine, think again. Alcohol and drug addiction is a slippery slope, especially in college, where social pressure can be immense and cheap drugs, and alcohol are readily available.
The smartest move for your health and general well-being is to abstain altogether, even if that means avoiding certain people and places you might otherwise enjoy. Put yourself first in these situations. People, places, and things come and go, but you will always have yourself, which is the most important relationship to develop.
Find Other Fun Healthy Activities to Occupy Your Time
Are you worried that not using drugs or alcohol will lessen your college experience? Are you concerned you will be bored? Fret not because there are tons of fun and fulfilling activities you can participate in that have nothing to do with intoxication, not to mention that you will have more time for activities since you will not have to deal with the side effects of drugs and alcohol like hangovers. You are in the perfect place to try new things with your abundant sober energy.
College is a place to explore your interests and find what parts of life excite you. There are a ton of extracurricular clubs and events right outside your dorm room. Make sure to look at your college’s calendar to see what is available.
Activities are more fun when you are sober and conscious of everything that is going on. These memories will last a lifetime; make the best of them without the fog of drugs or alcohol. Not only are you significantly safer in all your activities when you have your wits about you, but you won’t ever have to wonder what you did last night and with whom.
Go to Dry Events
Due to the increase in alcohol and drug abuse on college campuses, many administrators have initiatives to reduce substance abuse. One of them is to hold dry events, that is, events where no alcohol is available. Make sure to participate in these events. You will find other like-minded individuals. Another option is to find a group of people who are not drinking at an event and stay close.
These dry events and connections made will reduce or remove the temptation to drink or drug when you realize that life can be fun without it. Any chance to connect with other students who don’t want to be drunk or high through their time at college will reinforce the positive choice you are making for yourself and your future.
Leave Events Where Drugs Are Present
You will inevitably end up at parties or events where drugs are present. You may not notice immediately, and you may be shocked when suddenly people are using illicit substances in front of you. That is the nature of college, but there is no need to worry. There are always choices in life.
Whenever you see drugs at a party, leave immediately. No party or event is worth compromising the positive choice you have made for your life. Additionally, most drugs are illegal, making it unwise to stay in proximity to them once you are made aware.
Making yourself scarce in situations with illicit substances and people under the influence will keep you safe in the eyes of the law and deter any desire to partake.
Be Vocal With Your Choice to Be Drug and Alcohol-Free
People are forgetful. Your choice to be drug and alcohol-free is important to you, and you must make it known regularly to the people you are building new friendships with in college. They may mean no intentional harm, but your new friends might think you will change your mind once you see how much “fun” others are having while using substances.
Stick to your convictions. Let them know firmly that this is your choice to set your future up for success. When others see how much fun you have without using substances, your actions may encourage them to reflect on their relationships with drugs and alcohol.
Your convictions could lose you some friends at first, but the ones that come after will align with your values. All will be better for it. If you stick to your positive choice, you will have a brighter, more expansive college experience.
If a Group Pressures You to Use Drugs - Leave!
Unfortunately, in college, you will likely meet people who pressure or attempt to force you to use drugs or drink excessively. There are drinking games at parties designed to get you drunk as quickly as possible. Those games are an easy way to give yourself a bad time.
For people without much of a tolerance for alcohol, these games are extremely dangerous. People can lose consciousness and the ability to make rational choices for themselves.
In college, many people are new to drinking and have no idea how much they can handle. Social games pretending to be anything other than a binge drinking mechanism are hazardous and should be approached with extreme caution.
If you have a friend group that regularly pressures you to drink or do drugs, it may be time to leave the group altogether. Real friends respect your boundaries and support your success.
It sucks to lose friends, but it sucks worse to be around people who are not treating you with the respect and consideration you deserve. If you stick to a friend group that is pressuring you, you may cave. No group of people is worth that risk.
Build an Open and Honest Support Network
If you feel isolated in abstaining from drugs and alcohol, you may consider building a support network of like-minded individuals. This group could contain sober college students but is not limited to that.
A support network can include your parents, caretakers, or therapist.
Additionally, you could include other college administrative mentors like supervisors and professors. Including mature individuals in your support network is advisable since they have gone through similar situations and have successfully come out on the other side.
This support network can help you deal with others who are aggressive in their agenda to get you drunk or high. They can advise you through sticky situations you may need to learn how to handle. Additionally, they can be a kind ear to vent your frustrations and work through the struggles of general college life.
Report Drug Abuse to University Authorities
It may feel awkward, but reporting other students for drug or alcohol abuse can benefit everyone. Environments where a group of people are dealing drugs and pressuring others to do drugs are both illegal and wrong.
The longer these situations are allowed to go on, often, the worse they get. This jeopardizes the sober lifestyle you have chosen for yourself and puts others in harm’s way.
No one wants to be a snitch, but you can save literal lives by shining a light on these unlawful corners of your college campus.
Additionally, there may be someone you know whose life is spiraling out of control due to substance abuse issues. You may want to consider lending a helping hand by informing their families or the authorities as to what is happening.
No matter how much you think you can help someone recover from drug and alcohol addiction on your own, sometimes the professionals need to be called. A facility like Sunshine Care Centers can help your college friend get their life back on track before suffering the permanent consequences of their addiction. Several programs are available, including outpatient and partial hospitalization, depending on how much help is needed.
It's a Slippery Slope to Addiction
College only comes once, and it’s gone before you know it. That is why taking advantage of this precious window of time is crucial. In college, it is easy to fall into the trap of drugs and alcohol because it is so prevalent and accepted. In the wrong environment, one drink a night can quickly become many. If you or someone you know has fallen into the trap of drug or alcohol addiction and need professional help, then contact Sunshine Care Centers.
At Sunshine Care Centers, we work hard to provide a clean and secure environment. We understand that addiction looks different for everyone. We are dedicated to safely guiding patients through detox and establishing a treatment plan to strengthen and heal their lives.
Don’t wait to receive the help you deserve.