“The best years of your life.” College students hear this phrase over and over again during their collegiate years. The pressure from family, friends and social media is on to make sure they are living their college lives to the fullest, while simultaneously taking advantage of the education at their fingertips and preparing for the job market. That’s a lot of pressure on these 18 year old, developing minds.
So it’s no wonder that addiction in college students is a hot topic. Substance abuse and mental health issues on collegiate campus are serious enough issues that administrations are addressing it publicly, implementing support programs and offering on campus counseling centers/rehabilitative services.
While the college years are meant to be an exciting time of learning, self-discovery, life-long friendships and newly discovered independence; this all comes with the weight of juggling new responsibilities, meeting heightened expectations and a slight fear of the unknown future ahead of them post-graduation.
The aforementioned pressures are a breeding ground for anxiety, depression and temptation. With alcohol, seemingly a part of the “college experience,” flowing freely on college campuses, and drugs (both recreational and prescription) being more accessible to student bodies – it’s easy to image the temptation surrounding these students who may be struggling and see substance use as a way to escape the stress or even boost academic performance.
And for those students who don’t feel themselves struggling from the pressure, but are fully leaning into that “college experience” and making these the best years of their lives, they are at risk, too. Increased alcohol and drug consumption is not uncommon among this population – seeing substance use as a new experience or way to heighten their campus experience. Drinking alcohol often begins as a way to break the ice, bond with peers, facilitate conversations and feel more confident in this new world.
Some campuses are even known as “party campuses” where you’ll never have to look far for a house party or neighborhood bars are known to be less strict about alcohol laws. All of this leads to rises in binge drinking among this age group.
Beyond these overarching themes, there are many additional, more specific reasons that addiction in college students is so prevalent: social comparison theory, achievement culture, social media, loneliness, etc… All of which are equally concerning and can be tied to mental health and substance abuse.
Due to concern, many campuses have begun to offer counseling services or centers right there on campus. Some have even gone as far as offering rehabilitation support services or partnering with local support. And most campuses offer a connection to online or local resources for students struggling.
But if a student’s alcohol or drug use is severe, we argue that off campus treatment is needed. This is because off campus support provides an opportunity for removing a student from thee place, people or stressors that are triggering use. Advanced treatment programs like Wellbridge also offer an immersive, in-patient rehabilitation program that offers a variety of psychotherapy and creative art therapies. Our treatment programfocus on helping these students understand their specific triggers and develop coping skills to handle their triggers as they return to their lives outside of our walls. This is a crucial part of our program – as students returning to college campuses will be surrounded by their triggers and need to know how to cope with them in a healthy way to prevent relapse and maintain their sobriety.
College years can be some of the best of a young person’s life – but there are so many more wonderful years to be lived! That’s why mental health at this young age matters and getting treatment is crucial. If you know a student that may be struggling, learn more about admission at Wellbridge.