The college experience encompasses some of the most transformative years in an individual’s life. Submerged in uncharted territory and expected to soak up gallons of new information instantaneously, these trying years foster unparalleled personal growth. Complete with demanding classes, challenging studies, and, not to mention, the immense homework load, the college experience is guaranteed to provide you with an inescapable tinge of stress, setting in on day one and following you up to the cap and gown. Derived from unrealistic pressures to succeed, this stress is entirely normal for a college student but should not, in any sense, be taken lightly. If healthy modes of coping with this unrelenting pressure are not developed early on, it is very easy to fall into alcohol or drug use, leading to addiction. Full-time college students are twice more likely to establish habitual substance use than those who did not attend college. Often, students aware that a problem has developed will refrain from seeking treatment either out of fear that it could set back their graduation date or, if a student is thriving in school, they may disregard the problem entirely. Whatever the case may be, if a student feels that any substance abuse may exist, even minimally, seeking advice or support from friends, family, or a local psychologist is never a bad idea.
Prioritizing your Mental Health
In the whirlwind of balancing classwork and social activities, tending to one’s mental health is more than likely, the last thing on a busy student’s mind. While taking time out of your packed schedule to seek treatment seems relatively impossible, the human mind is wildly fragile and prioritizing time to heal is necessary for your wellbeing. Even those who aren’t entirely confident they demonstrate addictive behaviors should highly consider making time to analyze how a particular substance relates to their stressors, as well as seek ample support from those around them. While working through substance abuse amid college chaos is challenging, the most pivotal factor in recovering is merely acknowledging that the problem exists. Accepting this obstacle for what it is can be intimidating, but the very moment you do marks the beginning of your progress toward sobriety.
Self-Care Amidst the Stress of School
With the rapid pace of life on campus, devoting small blips of time for yourself to relax and unwind has proven to be a beneficial method of increasing weekly productivity in many college students. Scheduling out these periods to check in with your current state-of-mind, assess your level of stress, and simply chill out in any way you please offers your mind a couple of cherished minutes to collect itself. These periods can even be a simple fifteen-minute window per week. Throughout the day, sensory information endlessly floods our brains, but as we relax, this flood can be reduced to a calm stream or even a trickle depending upon the method we choose. So, while fifteen minutes seems to be a relatively short length of time, your brain will thank you for this period of recovery. While the approach to self-reflection varies from person to person, perhaps the most common technique is journaling. Why this approach seems to work could be the fact that, once written down, our thoughts and feelings take on a physical form. Viewing these internal emotions with our eyes seems to document their existence. Utilizing these tactics of self-care when facing substance abuse could relieve a portion of the stress kept locked away in mind and boost our ability to recognize any spikes in these habitual behaviors.
Coping in a Healthy Manner
Planted in the whirlwind of college experiences, it is essential to develop tactics that encourage a gradual shift away from substance abuse toward safer coping mechanisms. While many of the more articulate coping mechanisms, designed to target a particular stressor, are commonly explored in psychotherapy sessions, several practical strategies can be practiced to reduce substance use frequency.
- It’s okay to say no to friends. Often, college stress makes it difficult to deny invitations to socialize with friends, even when you know it could increase the possibility of alcohol or drug use. If possible, opening up to friends about a problem you’re facing can help them to understand the reason you deny their social invitations: not to avoid them, but only for your health and safety. This also may bring forth the opportunity to plan hang-outs that won’t encourage substance use.
- Utilize mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) techniques. MBSR is a practiced strategy where an individual develops a state of consciousness that allows them to perceive the happenings around them logically and non-judgmental. Often developed through meditation and self-reflection, MBSR enables the practicer to encounter stressful situations with a clear mind and form rational understandings about the situation’s reality before preceding.
- Have ample social support from those you trust. Treating any substance abuse takes time and effort, especially when dealing with it alone. Having support from friends, family, and even a psychotherapist who support your recovery can only ease the challenge of progressing toward sobriety.
Seeking treatment as a college student can be intimidating at first, but it certainly isn’t impossible. Taking steps to prioritize your mental health now can drastically impact your future well-being. Whether you are concerned with alcohol or substance use or believe you have a dependency, our caring team at Choice House is here for you. In college, personal connection and community can make all the difference in the world, and at Choice House, we feel that it can make all of the difference in your treatment as well. Our treatment center, located in Boulder, CO, offers a range of supportive programs from adventure-based outpatient treatment to inpatient programs and sobriety living. Whatever your situation may be, our passionate team of experienced experts will ensure you find an individual treatment program that works for you. While seeking help through college may seem impossible, Choice House offers an unparalleled community of love and support here to encourage you to reach your full potential. Call us today at (720) 577-4422 to learn more.