Drug Abuse

College has long been accepted as a place for growth, learning, and experimentation. Unfortunately, many college students experiment with not only large amounts of alcohol but with other addictive substances. Drug abuse in college students occurs all too often.

Approximately 23.6% of college students ages 18-22 are abusing drugs. At North Jersey Recovery Center, we understand that the college years are a particularly vulnerable time in a person’s life. We are ready to help you or your loved one find their road to recovery so that they can move forward in their life. 

Drug Abuse in College Students Occurs for Various Reasons

Several reasons that college students abuse drugs are:College Students

  • They feel like they need something extra to help them study.
  • Many drugs heighten the senses and this can encourage some students to seek these ramped up sensations.
  • They are suddenly on their own with no intimate discipline figure like a parent. College students might start to use drugs in order to fit in or simply to experiment.
  • Self-medication. Many mental illnesses manifest during the late teens to early twenties. This can be both confusing and scary for the student who might not realize what is going on. 
  • New or preexisting trauma either emotional, such as loss of a loved one, or physical trauma where the person experienced a physical event such as a car crash and developed a dependence on their prescription pain killer. 

For Some Students, College is Too Much Freedom Too Fast

Some students may find themselves developing an addiction disorder if they have never been in a situation in which they were free from parental or other restraints. All of a sudden, they can stay up as late as they like, eat whatever they like, go wherever they like, and use substances with no one to check up to see if they did attend class or crashed at their dorm or elsewhere after a long night. This can soon overwhelm many students, causing them to start down the path of addiction.

Since they are on their own with, in many cases, no parental authority, students have the opportunity to try other drugs than they might have not been able to obtain at home or they might be trying drugs for the first time. Some families might even consider it normal for a student to try one or two substances as part of growing up and the general college experience. One might even say that drug abuse in college students is somewhat of an expectation.

Some Drugs are Touted as Study Aids

One of the most notoriously abused prescription drugs, Adderall, is not only used as a study aid but also as a weight loss pill. Students who abuse prescription medications are more likely to do poorly in class and receive lower grades. After marijuana, prescription drugs are the most abused drugs on college campuses.

College students who abuse prescription drugs are more likely to abuse several drugs at the same time. A student might take Adderall or another stimulant to try to help themselves focus and bring up poor or failing grades.

Many students turn to heroin after starting to abuse prescription drugs. One reason for this is heroin is significantly less expensive than many prescription drugs. This along with the fact that prescription drugs like oxycodone are getting harder to get makes the transition tempting for many students.

Many Mental Illnesses Can Appear During College Years

College Students on drugsMany mental illnesses start to show themselves during a person’s late teens to early twenties. One of the most notable is schizophrenia. Marijuana can increase someone’s likelihood of developing schizophrenia in the future. If someone who already has schizophrenia takes marijuana it can trigger a psychotic episode. Many students with depression turn to alcohol to try to self-medicate.

Trauma Can Trigger Addiction

Trauma often opens the door for addiction. The added stress of this newfound independence, distance from support networks like family, and possibly new triggers hidden in the student’s day to day life on top of the daily struggle of dealing with trauma can start a student down the path of addiction. In some cases, the traumatic event itself might occur at college. One example is being hit by a car. If the college is in a rural setting proper treatment for the traumatic event(s) might not be readily available. This can also lead the person down the path of addiction. 

Treatment for Drug Abuse in College Students

There are several treatment options available for students who have found themselves on the path of addiction. 

Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient rehab is often the best option for someone who wants to start their road to recovery. Many people need inpatient treatment. During inpatient treatment, not only do patients receive a full day of treatment in a drug-free environment, but they also learn other habits that will be beneficial. These include things such as a routine, nutrition, and other self-care necessities. As a result, individuals can be ready whether or not they decide to return to college right away. For people who have abused certain substances or have been abusing substances for a certain period of time, inpatient treatment might be the only option. 

Partial Care Program

During our partial care program patients come to the clinic for 4-6 hours a day for 5 days a week. For people who are stepping down from an inpatient program, our partial care program can be very beneficial. Partial care helps our clients take the tools they acquired during the inpatient part of their clinical recovery journey and gradually start to put them into action in the real world. If a problem comes up or a client has a slip or a relapse our partial care team will be there to help them return to their new road to recovery. 

Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

In our IOP the patient meets with their treatment team for three hours three times a week. Some students might be able to continue some of their studies during an IOP. This is not a guarantee for all students and it is important to listen to the personalized advice of your treatment team. 

There are many different types of therapy available to help someone who is suffering from a substance abuse disorder. Many of these therapies will be combined to help the client get the full benefit of the treatments. 

Therapy  Offered at New Jersey Recovery Center

substance abuse in collegeAt North Jersey Recovery Center, we offer therapy services that can assist individuals in addressing and overcoming addiction. Some of the therapy approaches we offer include individual counseling, group therapy, and more!

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Unlike more traditional talk therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy goes on for a relatively short amount of time. The benefits of cognitive-behavioral therapy last long after the therapy is over. If someone finds that the tools they developed during their CBT sessions need to be changed or need to be refreshed it only takes a few sessions to update the tools. The focus of this type of therapy is helping the patient change their thought processes so that they are more beneficial to the patient.

Group Therapy

During group therapy, patients can discuss triggers, coping strategies, and other relevant topics. Group therapy can serve to make the patient not feel as lonely and isolated. They will come to understand that they are not alone. Sharing a coping strategy or other advice can help a patient gain confidence. Also, listening to others talk about what helps them might give the patient new insights into themselves and more tools to help them succeed.

Individual Therapy

Patients might be encouraged to bring issues from group therapy that they want to work on in more detail to individual therapy. Individual therapy is also a good place for a patient to talk about issues that are more private or which they might feel more sensitive about. 

Family Therapy

This is a good time for the patient and their family to reconcile. Watching your loved one go down the path of addiction can feel strange and scary, especially if your loved one was always a star performer who never showed any sign of being interested in substances. It is important to remember that no one is perfect. It is easy to forget how intense college can be. But the best gift you can give to your loved one is love and understanding. 

Combatting Addiction in College Students

College is not a one-shot and done. These institutes of higher learning have been around for thousands of years. It is important to take the time and start to heal on your road to recovery before you attempt to go back to college or before you go any further in your education. You need to be the best that you can be to succeed in not only college but the world beyond it. When you are ready to get back to life and take the first step on your road to recovery contact us.

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Laura Riley

Medical Reviewer

Laura comes to NJRC with 23 years of vast clinical experience in hospital, residential, outpatient, and community outreach settings where she has worked, supervised clinical teams, and volunteered. She has provided substance abuse and mental health counseling, clinical coordination, and advocacy to individuals, families and groups, and specializes in co-occurring disorders for both adults and adolescents.