Understand the Disease of Addiction in the College Environment
It used to be the common belief that individuals who suffered from addiction were willfully selfish or thought to even merely be bad people. Over time, we found that suffering from alcohol and drug addiction indicated the presence of a complex brain disease. According to the disease model of addiction, addicts suffer due to the brain having developed an altered structure and function, causing continuous relapsing as a result of an obsessive fixation on the seeking and consumption of mind-altering chemicals. The current and much more enlightened view of addiction has led to the development of addiction treatments that, when combined, offer an attainable and effective means of overcoming chemical dependency and achieving lasting recovery.
There are many reasons addicts give for their turning to alcohol and drugs. In some cases, addiction grew from a legitimate medical condition with the individual realizing that they’ve grown physically and psychologically dependent on prescription medications. However, more often than not the precursor to addiction is experimentation with substance abuse. Individuals are intrigued by the prospect of recreational intoxication, or perhaps they choose to self-medicate themselves due to the stress of everyday life, feelings of anxiety or depression, to become less socially inhibited through alcohol and drugs, or for any number of other reasons. College students know as well as anyone that there are numerous reasons that might lead an individual to recreational abuse alcohol or drugs; what’s more, college students have the added stress of heavy course loads and the ongoing struggle of learning to be an independent adult in the world.
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Unfortunately, due to the social culture of tolerance that’s pervaded the college environment most college students either don’t feel that substance abuse poses a threat, are unable or unwilling to recognize chemical dependency in themselves, or are unsure of how to go about treating alcohol and drug addiction. The following will explain the nature of addiction as well as what constitutes addiction recovery and how to begin one’s recovery from alcohol and drug addiction, effectively offering the college student’s concise guide to addiction and recovery.
What Exactly is Addiction?
When in college, the reality is that any given student will almost surely know more classmates who recreationally abuse alcohol and/or drugs than classmates who don’t. There’s a well-documented and controversial acceptance of substance abuse in college even by the presidents, deans, and administrators of those institutions. As such, college students are often unclear on the criteria of addiction and substance abuse disorders, which is a dangerous disservice as it makes them unable to identify it in themselves in order to begin seeking necessary treatments. By definition, addiction is a chronic, relapsing brain disease, but that doesn’t mean a whole lot to a college student who feels his or her drinking merely indicates active participation in collegiate life. In practice, addiction is present when an individual is unable to stop drinking alcohol or doing drugs no matter how much he or she may want it. When an addict attempts to cease consumption, he or she experiences withdrawal symptoms that include feelings of anxiety, restlessness, nausea, cold sweats, chills, diarrhea, insomnia, and a number of other unpleasant symptoms that persist until the individual consumes his or her substance of choice.
Recovery Options for College Students
When someone is suffering from alcohol or drug addiction and chooses to embark on the journey of recovery, it’s not uncommon for him or her to have reached what’s called “rock bottom,” which is a low point reached by an addict that often entails losing employment, become financially unstable or even destitute, and possible even homeless. However, when a college student is suffering from chemical dependency there are certain factors to consider when deciding on the ideal addiction treatments. If the student will continue with coursework while receiving treatment for addiction, he or she will require a certain amount of flexibility when it comes to the schedule of addiction treatments and therapies. However, if the student will be taking time off from school while overcoming chemical dependency, he or she can pursue more intensive, effective treatments.
Most colleges and universities have some type of on-campus services, support, and care for students who are struggling with substance abuse. College students who find themselves struggling with substance abuse and chemical dependency could start at the student health center on campus, which can often either offer intervention treatments specifically or other helpful options that are available on campus. For example, campus support groups for substance abuse and dependency are an ideal place to start, especially for students whose addictions aren’t very severe or who are still enrolled and attending classes while overcoming chemical dependency.