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Addicts on Campus: Exploring Resources for Addiction Education at US Colleges

Teen addiction

Have you ever been on a diet and have struggled with temptation while walking through a grocery store? Or a candy shop? Or a chocolate retailer?

Then you have an inkling of what it is like for a recovering alcoholic or drug addict to be matriculating at an American college or university.

According to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about four out of every seven young adults (aged 18 to 25) had consumed alcohol in the previous month, and about 38 percent of people in this age group had engaged in binge drinking during the same period. Similarly, the survey reports more than 23 percent of young adults took illegal drugs in the previous month. Not surprisingly, NSDUH statistics indicate that over 15 percent of young adults were in need of some type of substance abuse treatment in 2016.

More Addiction Recovery Resources Needed in Post-Secondary Education

Researchers feel that institutions of higher education should be bolstering their efforts to combat substance abuse on campus. A national study published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research in 2014 revealed that campus police departments who respond to alcohol-related incidents usually just forward the information to college or university officials. In these instances, the issuance of citations or referrals to on-campus health centers are relatively rare.

Given the prevalence of alcohol and illicit drug use at universities and colleges, it is easy to see why recovering addicts face additional challenges while trying to earn their degree. The continuous presence of drugs and alcohol combined with the typical academic stressors found in the scholastic environment can significantly increase the odds of relapsing.

Where College Student Addicts Can Get Help

Thankfully, there are resources available for college students who are recovering addicts. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration recently released an information kit designed to educate and assist prevention practitioners at colleges and universities. The Behavioral Health Among College Students Information & Resource Kit provides materials which can aid institutional efforts in preventing substance abuse and promoting mental health among college students.

In addition, educators are also taking other steps to facilitate the recovery efforts of its student addicts. Many schools are offering 12-step programs on-campus, substance-free housing options, and a variety of sober events that help build social networks that do not revolve around alcohol or drugs.

Healthcare facilities on college and university campuses are also trying to improve their professional support services that address substance abuse treatment, including the addition of clinical services and psychosocial support. Peer support groups and community-campus partnerships are other sources of aid for students who are battling alcohol or drug addiction.

Teen addiction

Recovery and College: Can It Be Done?

If you are a recovering addict who is thinking about enrolling in or returning to college, here are some suggestions to help maximize the chances of success:

  • Consider forgoing college during your first year of recovery. After all, it’s a “major life change” which is often discouraged in the early weeks and months of recovering from substance abuse.
  • Actively seek out organizations and resources that are available on campus for recovering addicts.
  • Consider attending meetings, counseling sessions, or 12-step programs while enrolled at college.
  • Maintain regular contact with your sponsor or, if necessary, find another sponsor or support person while at college.
  • Think about ways to celebrate your scholastic successes that do not involve alcohol or drugs.
  • For most college students, their studies are (or should be) their top priority. However, as a recovering addict, your sobriety is your top priority.

Though every addict is different, earning a college degree while recovering from addiction is an attainable and worthwhile goal. Reaching this milestone requires some additional precautions for addicts who are also trying to live a life of recovery.

If you are a college student and you think you might have a substance abuse problem, contact us today.

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