Identifying a Problem
It’s typical for college students to think they can handle their current rate of drug or alcohol use, but a few key warning signs can let you know that your substance use may have become a problem:1
- Loss of control: You’re drinking or using more than you wanted to, or you’re doing it even though you swore you wouldn’t
- Increased tolerance: You find yourself needing to drink or use more in order to achieve the desired effects
- Neglecting interests and activities: You’ve stopped participating in routine activities or hobbies; you may be spending less time with family and friends
- Ignoring negative consequences: Substance abuse is causing problems in your life—your grades may be suffering, relationships may be strained or you may even be experiencing health problems—but you continue to drink or use anyway
Where to Turn
If you recognize any of these classic signs of addiction, it’s important to address the problem as soon as possible. A good starting point is your college’s student health clinic. They can perform an initial consultation and refer you to nearby treatment centers for further evaluation.
The majority of colleges and universities have student help lines that you could can for guidance. Many colleges also have a counseling center or department of psychiatric services that can help students who are concerned about a substance abuse problem. Check your college or university’s website for a complete list of available services.
What to Expect
Once you reach out to a professional for help through campus resources, you can start discussing treatment options. For some substances, medical detox is necessary. This process allows the substance to safely leave your body and helps manage uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.2 Psychological and behavioral counseling helps you address the root issues that may have fueled your substance abuse; this type of counseling also helps you develop the coping skills you’ll need to deal with cravings and triggers. After you complete treatment, you’ll want to participate in recovery resources such as support groups, continued counseling or 12-step programs. These resources provide valuable support and motivation to help you manage the challenges of recovery.
Admitting that drug or alcohol use has become a problem in your life is a big step in the right direction. Reaching out for help is the next important step. Remember that you’re not alone—help and support are available right at your college. With the guidance of these campus resources, you can determine the best treatment options for your needs and get on the path to recovery.