Watch for These 5 Signs a College Student May Be Using Substances
3 January 2020,
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Substance use is not easy to talk about. College students who use substances have many reasons. They may be doing it due to stress, anxiety, past trauma, or started because friends did it and now they cannot stop. When they start using, they are less likely to show signs to the family when they are away at school. Those who are around them may be frenzied and stress so friends do not notice what is going on always, either. To know the signs a student may be using drugs or alcohol, it is important to understand what to look for and seek help for a loved one who is using substances. 

Binge Drinking Behavior

College students drink on average more than the rest of society. The incubator aspect of them being in a small space with lots of other people their age, away from adult supervision like at home, means they may be more likely to experiment with drugs or alcohol. A student who constantly drinks and blacks out is more than likely drinking too much. Binge drinking behavioral means drinking five or more drinks within a two-hour period for men, or four drinks in two hours for women. If this drinking behavior happens on a continual basis, the student may need help quitting. 

Criminal Behavior

If a student suddenly shows signs they are getting into legal trouble or having issues at school, it may be time to look into what is happening. Students abusing alcohol or drugs can get into things like vandalism, driving while intoxicated, or other crimes like this. Chronic cuse of drugs can lead to bigger issues and court or jail time. It is worth asking the student if they are struggling with substance use if it seems they are getting into trouble more than than have in the past. 

Not Interested in Personal Hobbies

When a student is abusing drugs or alcohol, they will exhibit signs they have a problem by isolating. They become less social, less outgoing, and not as apt to engage in their usual activities. Doing extracurricular activities may be of less interest to them and they do the bare minimum required to get by. They may opt for other  things like partying to continue hanging with friends but will usually not engage in other activity as they progrss in their addiction. They may pull out of extracurrulcars at school and not seem interested in attending family functions, gatherings, or being around anyone that may see what is going on. 

Mood Swings 

Students who are not acting like themselves and may be abusing either drugs or alcohol can begin to exhibit traits of addiction. If people are not noticnig it because the student lives far away, it helps to pay close attention when they are h ome as to how they behave. If their mood seems to swing a lot from irritable to depressed to extreme manic type moods, it could be a sign of something oging on. They may be struggling with mental health issues along with addiction, as well. Abusing substances can happen alongside mental health issues in what is called co-occurring disorder. 

Uncharacteristic Behaviors

Students who are doing certain things that seem risky or reckless may be struggling with substance abuse issues. When someone is having trouble with drinking or blacking out and doing drugs, they may be dealing with lots of issues under the surface. There may be stress, anxiety, fear, other mental health issues. Here are some of the other signs a person is exhibiting traits they may not normally exhibit:

  • Emotional, physical, or verbal abuse
  • More likely to fight or pick fights
  • Acting neglectful of themselves or other people, including personal property
  • Having risky sex with lots of partners or inconsistent partners
  • Risking their own safety and that of others

Getting into drugs and drinking can do more than harm a person physically and mentally. It can take over their lives, destroy their grades and ruin scholarship opportunities. It can be a difficult path for people who are dealing with addiction. If a loved one knows the signs, including parents, they can be more mindful of what they are noticing. Maybe i t is more than stress, it is something else entirely when put through the lens of possible addiction. The first step is paying attention, followed by substance abuse that leads to addiction. There are many ways to help someone going down the wrong path. They simply need a loved one to pay attention and help guide them towards treatment. If they are willing to go, this will be helpful. If they are not, then trying to encourage them any way possible is the only way to do it until they are ready to commit to a decision to quit drugs or alcohol and find healing.

At Burning Tree West, collegiate students receive the help they need from our professional staff.  Through accountability and commitment to the 12 steps, each client will develop the tools to create a sober lifestyle and find lasting recovery. Our goal is to help people who relapse find hope for another way forward. For more information, call us now at 855-997-1376

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