Sober Semester: Benefits of Substance-Free Study Habits

Going to college is a turning point in adulthood. Whether you are attending a school close to home or moving away, this transition comes with decisions that can define your future. College campuses are often in close proximity to popular party spots, however, the excitement of achieving your dreams can be derailed when alcohol and substances come before studying.

September is Recovery Awareness Month a time to increase understanding of substance use disorders and mental health disorders and to encourage people to ask for help.

College Life Balance

Many students are adjusting to a new way of balancing a full schedule. Between tough classes, extracurricular activities, and part-time jobs the pressure can be overwhelming. For some college students, instead of developing critical coping mechanisms, drugs and alcohol become a way to mask problems.

Although college provides a world of new experiences and you may feel the temptation to take part in everything, it’s important to recognize when you have feelings of stress and find a healthy way to cope with those feelings. This may include: talking to your friends, parents or a counselor for support, getting enough sleep, exercising, eating healthy, and even cutting back on extracurricular activities.

Substance Abuse in College

Alcohol and drug use in college can interfere with your academic performance, decrease the chances of obtaining post-college employment, and cause many additional consequences. According to the  National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) college students frequently misuse alcohol.

Other drugs most commonly misused by college students include:1,2,3

  • Marijuana. Rates of marijunana vaping are highest among people in their early 20s.
  • MDMA (ecstasy, molly), LSD, and other psychedelic or hallucinogenic drugs. Many students experiment with these drugs out of curiosity, to have the overall psychedelic experience, or to escape. Micro-dosing, the act of using small doses of hallucinogens to achieve a slight effect, has also increased among college students in recent years.
  • Stimulant medications, such as Adderall, often called “study drugs.” Students may use study drugs to help them stay awake to focus and study for exams. Adderall use in college can be very detrimental and eventually lead to dependence or addiction.
  • Cocaine. One study showed that more than 20% of college students were exposed to opportunities to use cocaine in the past year.
  • Painkillers and opioids. A high percentage of young adults between the ages of 18-25 misuse prescription opioids. Unfortunately, counterfeit Rx painkillers are increasingly adulterated with fentanyl, a problem that has contributed to the opioid overdose epidemic.

It’s important for friends and loved ones to know the signs that may indicate substance addiction. These signs may include:

  • A significant drop in grades.
  • Dropping classes/ or skipping a lot of classes.
  • Drastic changes in appearance.
  • Lack of energy and/or motivation for life.
  • Dramatic social changes
  • Legal trouble like arrests or DUIs
  • Risky behavior, such as unprotected sex and blackouts.

Dangers of Binge Drinking

During college parties, some young adults are often compelled to participate in binge drinking behavior and consume large quantities of alcohol in a short amount of time. Binge drinking is defined by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism as a pattern of consuming alcohol that brings an individual’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 or higher grams of alcohol per deciliter. This commonly occurs when men consume 5 or more drinks in about two hours, or women consume 4 or more drinks in about two hours.4

Because alcohol typically takes 30 to 60 minutes to fully absorb, young adults can drink more than their body can handle without realizing it, increasing the risk of harm to themselves and those around them. Additionally, binge drinking increases the risk of acute harm like blackouts and overdose as well as risky behaviors like unsafe sex, domestic violence, unplanned pregnancy, and car accidents.5

Binge drinking does not just affect college students. The behavior is most common in adults between the ages of 18 and 34 and it’s estimated that 2,300 people die each year from alcohol poisoning.6 Over time, repeated binge drinking can also contribute to chronic diseases like liver disease and several types of cancer.6 Binge drinking behavior has also been found to increase the risk of developing an alcohol use disorder.6

This year, to address the nation’s growing crisis of substance misuse and overdose deaths, Recovery month initiatives focus on evidence-based treatment and recovery practices, the emergence of a strong and proud recovery community, and the dedication of service providers and community members across the nation who make recovery possible.

If you are struggling with addiction and looking for rehab in Mississippi, Oxford Treatment Center can help kickstart your recovery. Our admissions navigators are available 24/7 to answer your questions .

Blog originally published 7/23/2019

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