This is a guest post by Sam.

It’s easy for a college student to become swept up in drugs and alcohol. According to Addiction Answers, about 40 percent of college students report binge drinking. Addiction to illicit drugs jumps up around grade 12 to a whopping 44 percent. College students are sometimes known for abusing pharmaceuticals, like Adderall, to assist with test-taking and studying. For these students especially, it’s difficult to admit to addiction, because they’re hard workers intent on being successful.

Know the Signs

Drug abuse can sneak up on the unsuspecting student. The student thinks they’re doing something just once, for the fun of it or to maintain good grades. The student tries the substance again and again, each time assuring themselves they’re fine to use it. They enjoy it, so they continue to use it. The drug or alcohol consumption grows until it’s a full-fledged addiction and the student is no longer in control. The student has a need for the drug, becomes dependent on it, and suddenly things are spiraling out of control.

When a student isn’t able to say no to drugs or alcohol, it can begin to control his/her life. They have a dependency issue and that must be dealt with. Dependency is defined as compulsive drug/alcohol seeking behavior. If you’re a teacher and you notice a student is suddenly missing more classes, withdrawn, or is participating in high-risk behaviors, try talking to the student. Encourage the student to be forthcoming about their addiction, if they’re suffering from one.

Here are some warning signs for potential drug/alcohol abuse:

  • Noticeably drunk/high at inappropriate times
  • Poor attendance
  • Increased aggression/hostility
  • Poor grades
  • Bad judgment
  • References to drugs/alcohol in everyday conversation
  • Changes in physical appearance

If someone you love is exhibiting these signs, you may want to talk to them to see if anything is going on. If you find the student is abusing drugs or alcohol, you may need to take action to save their lives. Drug and alcohol dependency is very dangerous for young people, because it can lead to rape, violence, suspension, and even death.

What Should be Done?

How can a college student avoid using drugs and alcohol? It’s difficult, but the student must be able to say no, especially if they’re using the substance to avoid difficult situations or deal with stress. Nationwide, campuses are struggling to find ways to deal with this significant problem. Students are encouraged to reach out to their mentors when they’re feeling overwhelmed, to participate in campus outreach programs, and have a real conversation with their friends and family.

Oftentimes, drug and alcohol addicts are in denial about their addiction. It can be difficult to talk to the student about addiction, simply because they don’t believe they have a problem. You don’t have to wait until a college student comes to terms with their addiction, nor do you have to wait until it’s too late and they’re dead. You can stage an intervention, in order to try and convince them they have a real problem. It’s important that interventions do not take place without an intervention specialist or a rehab professional.

If the student does finally admit to having a problem, what happens?

There are so many ways to treat an addict. If the student isn’t in very serious trouble, meaning they just started using, they could attend outpatient rehab. If the student is under 20 years old, there are specific rehab for teens options available to them. This means that the student will be among their peers and will be attending group therapy with other teens, just like them. They’ll know they’re not alone in their addiction and they’ll likely form a supportive bond.

Whatever you do, it’s important to deal with the issue of addiction as soon as possible.

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