The college years are a time for exploration and self-discovery for most young adults.
Being away from home, away from parents, and dependent on their own choices can be overwhelming and lead to some dangerous decisions. Alcohol use that begins as a social activity can soon become a problem to overcome. The important thing is to learn limits, recognize when there’s a problem, and seek help to recover so better choices can be made in the future.
Getting Help Before It’s Too Late
It is sometimes difficult for a person to see that their drinking is a problem until it’s caused severely negative consequences in their life. It can be helpful to get input from someone else, whether solicited or not. However, those who see the problem from the outside may be unwilling to say anything for a variety of reasons.
- Fear of being alienated and ostracized
- Feeling judgmental
- Fear of ridicule
- Fear of breaking a friendship
- Feeling like they’re overstepping/being nosy
Unfortunately, these fears and feelings can prevent a person from getting the help they need. Despite the potential negative effects of speaking out, the positive effects can save someone’s life. Sometimes an intervention, no matter how small, is what someone needs to get help and recovery from their substance use disorder.
Learning Healthy Limits
It is possible to prevent an addiction-related problem from developing in some college students. Being aware of the dangers, consequences, and pressure students will face before they get to college can help students prepare adequately.
Parents and family members can help students understand what they may encounter at college. There is pressure and dangers of substance use among teenagers as well, but college is an entirely different situation because of the freedom of decision-making and lack of supervision.
Finding Non-Alcoholic Alternatives
Each college and university across the country has its own policies regarding alcohol and substance use. Many are not only aware of the substance problems on their campuses but are actively creating alternative social activities. This helps those students who may be afraid of being ridiculed or ostracized from their peer group have options for fun things to do as a group without substances being involved.
Some campuses have designated driver or taxi services for students. This helps cut down on the risks surrounding drinking and driving. It can also prevent injuries resulting from falls due to alcohol-related dizziness as well as help remove the threat of assault or sexual assault.
Programs like “Less Than U Think” are popping up on campuses as well, giving students the opportunity to help their peers learn about making responsible choices regarding alcohol use. It gives the student body information in order to understand binge drinking, realize the negative effects alcohol can have on their bodies and academics, and more-closely monitor their drinking habits.
College can be a scary place, even for returning students. Each year brings new challenges and new pressures. Being aware of the potential problems that can arise, as well as the dangers of getting sucked in to situations that can spiral out of control quickly, can help incoming students learn responsible habits and decision-making. Many campuses have a variety of resources for not only students wanting to prevent a substance use problem, but also for students who are already suffering from alcohol and other substance use disorders. A good support system of family and friends will help make it easier for students to learn good choices.