Students Seeking Help: Addiction in College Students

Students Seeking Help: Addiction in College Students

College can be a great experience. For many, this is a time of growth, learning, and evolving into the adult you are going to become. It is a time for making new friends, new hobbies, and trying new things. College serves as a transitional period, if you will, between young adulthood and a more mature version of you.

Unfortunately, for many, college can involve experimenting with alcohol and other drugs. As you are exposed to new people, places, and situations, you can be tempted to try drugs or alcohol. Peer pressure can be very powerful, particularly for college-aged students. For some, substance use may remain recreational or occasional. For many, however, this can spiral out of control quickly and become a problem. With no ill intent, you can end up trying to balance college courses while battling drug or alcohol addiction.

How the Problem Starts

What causes college students to begin using drugs or drinking? Is it a rebellious streak itching to get out after years of living under your parents' roof? Maybe it begins with a harmless effort to fit in at a party or a moment of desperation after flunking an impossible exam. While reasons may vary, a few common causes could be new friend groups or influences, the stress of school itself, or the financial difficulties that often accompany this chapter of life.

New Influences

Attending college can be a huge adjustment. Many are just moving out of their parents' house and are experiencing their first taste of real independence. Now being surrounded by tons of new people and a new way of life, college students are eager to exercise their newfound freedom.

Often desperate to make new friends and feel a sense of belonging, college students can be easily influenced by those they hope to connect with. Parties are in full swing, and drugs and alcohol are almost always accessible.

School Stress

College can be very stressful. Coursework is harder, the workload is larger, and tests are more difficult. College professors are far less likely to be concerned about student success. This means, for the most part, college students are responsible for their own success or failure. This pressure can be overwhelming, causing many to engage in drinking or drug use in an attempt to relax.

Financial Struggles

Have you heard the phrase "broke college student?" There is often some truth to this. College students are typically unable to work full-time jobs, or not well-paying ones at least. While working to earn a degree, most college students work part-time jobs in service industries, retail, or other entry-level positions, usually earning just enough to scrape by.

Often, jobs are short-lived or inconsistent, leaving students struggling to make ends meet. A diet of ramen noodles and Pop Tarts becomes all too familiar. When combined with the stress of attending classes and actually passing them, financial stress can lead to substance use in an attempt to escape.

Challenges and Risks

Addiction in college students has increased significantly over the last decade. With substances becoming more accessible and more widely used, students who struggle with substance abuse are missing out on the college experience they could otherwise have.

Drug or alcohol use among college students is associated with various challenges. These can include lower grades, higher rates of unemployment during and after college, and an increased risk of sexual assault. Many battling addiction struggle with focus and do not get quality sleep. As a result, class attendance lessens and priorities shift.

College students are also more likely to continue to use substances and have their misuse reinforced by the prevalence and acceptance of drugs and alcohol in this setting. As stated by Justine W. Welsh, M.D., Yujia Shentu, M.S., and Dana B. Sarvey, M.D. in the psychiatry journal Focus, "One of the most significant challenges with addressing substance use on college campuses is related to its history of integration into the normative tradition and fabric of the college experience." Take Greek life, for example. Most sororities and fraternities incorporate alcohol, at least, into every event or activity. This makes substance abuse that much more likely for those involved in these groups.

Tips for Avoiding Substance Abuse

While avoiding exposure to alcohol or other substances during college can be difficult. There are a few things you can do to decrease your vulnerability. A few tips for avoiding substance use in college include:

  • Choosing friends who are positive influences
  • Staying focused on your goals
  • Budgeting
  • Practicing self-care
  • Developing healthy habits
  • Prioritizing wellness and nutrition
  • Hobbies

College is meant to be a positive, memorable time. Battling addiction while in college not only takes away from your experience but also results in less learning, less positive friendships, and less personal growth. Going to college is a privilege and is an opportunity to make the most of.

College students can be particularly vulnerable to substance use and addiction. They are often excited about their new level of independence and eager to try new things. Unfortunately, drugs and alcohol have become increasingly prevalent on college campuses, making substances easily accessible to anyone interested. Addiction takes so much away from the college experience and can result in wasted time, money, and effort. If you are a student struggling with substance abuse, consider seeking help to avoid missing out on what could be some of the most important years of your life. Enlightened Solutions offers a variety of treatment programs and services with a holistic approach. Let us help you get back on track so you are able to re-assess your priorities and reach your goals. If you or someone you know is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, call Enlightened Solutions today at (833) 801-LIVE.


When Family Becomes Toxic: The Signs and Effects

Family can be a positive or negative influence or a combination of both. Negative, or toxic, family dynamics may lead to frustration and cause emotional distress through interactions with family members or even the thought of them. It may be hard to recognize you are in a toxic or dysfunctional family or that you grew up in one. It is hard to see a situation when you are on the inside. There are ways to recognize and change how you engage in these toxic situations.

Recognizing a Toxic Childhood or Family Environment 

Most people do not realize the effects that their childhood family environment had on their development until they are adults. Some signs that you may have grown up in a toxic family environment include having to meet unrealistic standards, such as having chores or tasks that kept you from completing homework, playing with friends, or getting enough sleep. Some examples of what one might endure in a toxic family environment include:

  • Having to care for younger siblings by providing discipline and care to them
  • Staying up late with parents with substance use disorders (SUDs) to ensure they got to bed safely
  • Providing emotional support to parents with SUDs 
  • Cooking meals or doing excessive chores at extremely young ages
  • Receiving harsh criticism that made you feel unloved, unwanted, or lesser than
  • Having personal needs not met, such as being forgotten and not being picked up from school or after-school activities, not having adequate food at home, or suitable clothing and shelter

 Healthy family environments include supporting basic needs, including:

  • Making sure your needs are met, such as providing adequate clothing and food
  • Taking care of your health
  • Providing affection
  • Instilling discipline and setting boundaries

Recognizing a Toxic Family Environment

If you feel that you have dealt with, or are dealing with, a toxic family situation, try and recognize your feelings after interactions with family members. If you feel negative or down on yourself after family interactions, you may need to draw boundaries. For example, look for these particular feelings from your family that may be warning signs:

  • You feel controlled 
  • You feel disrespected and unloved
  • You feel hatred and disapproval instead of love

Substance Use and The Toxic Family Environment

A family member who uses alcohol or drugs isn’t inherently toxic, but substance use disorders (SUDs) may develop, which can lead to unhealthy dynamics within the family. Ways that substance use may influence a toxic family environment include:

  • Substance use that impacts a family member’s mood or behavior negatively
  • Substance use that is hidden or not spoken of among the family or to outsiders
  • Enabling a family member’s use of drugs or alcohol
  • Emotional, verbal, or physical abuse resulting from a family member’s alcohol or drug use 

Unfortunately, there is a relationship between substance use and abuse. SUDs take over the sufferer’s life, resulting in an uncontrollable need to use drugs or alcohol, which may lead to engaging in negative behaviors such as lying, stealing, manipulating, or abuse to obtain the substance.  Abuse within the toxic family can include:

  • Physical abuse or violence
  • Verbal abuse such as name-calling or harsh criticism
  • Sexual abuse, such as inappropriate touching
  • Gaslighting, or making someone doubt their perception of reality or memories

How to Deal with a Toxic Family Environment

Dealing with toxic family members is a personal and individualized pursuit. Some may cut off contact entirely with toxic family members, while others will limit contact and try to figure out the situation while protecting their emotional and psychological health. If you are currently in a toxic family situation or grew up in one, these strategies may help you navigate and cope:

  • Figure out what you want from your family relationships
  • Develop clear boundaries you want to set, by limiting the number of family visits and maintaining a certain level of contact that is comfortable for you
  • Practice separation and not getting involved in family issues

Separation may involve avoiding topics that evoke strong emotions, keeping conversations casual, and leaving if situations start getting toxic or heated. However, staying out of toxic family situations is easier said than done. You must make a plan to avoid getting drawn into the negative cycle that creates a toxic family environment. Some strategies include:

  • Establish topics to avoid while you’re with family, and informing them of these off-limit topics
  • Figure out how to change topics
  • Deflect a provoking or prying question by asking a different question
  • Deciding what you’re willing to share, and what you want to keep private

Toxic family members may use details about yourself to control, manipulate, and criticize you, so establishing boundaries on what you share with them is a form of self-preservation. Before engaging with your family, remind yourself of what your off-limit topics are so you don’t engage in conversations that may create dysfunction and negative situations. Furthermore, understand that setting boundaries are a risk in a toxic family environment since you risk rejection. Saying “no” to situations that lead to distress and unhappiness may be the best way to protect yourself from perpetual exposure to toxicity. You do not have control over anyone but yourself, and you cannot change toxic family members. You only have the power to change yourself and how you respond to or engage in situations. 

What to Do If You Feel You Are A Part of a Toxic Family Environment

Often, a toxic family environment involves a substance use disorder (SUD) and, unfortunately, may lead to unhealthy dynamics. Toxic family members may attack you, lessen your self-esteem, or disagree with your life choices. These situations can cause division between you and your family and impact your self-worth. You may need to set boundaries and create a personal path in life, avoiding the conflict and negativity that comes from interactions with a toxic family environment. Give yourself the power back. If you or someone you know has a substance use disorder to drugs or alcohol and is living in a toxic environment, call Enlightened Solutions today at 833-801-LIVE.


Deleting Facebook: Are Social Media Apps Influencing Young Adults to Use Substances?

Social media sites, such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, are different but share similarities. First, users generate an account, then link to a network of friends, family, or groups, and proceed to use the platform to share personal thoughts and ideas, videos, photos, and other user-generated content. In the United States in 2019, there were 190 million active users on Facebook, 330 million active users on Twitter, and 110 million active users on Instagram. Although users saturate these platforms, research shows that exposure to other’s social media pages displaying negative behaviors also influences young adults’ use of drugs or alcohol. 

Social Media is Addictive Itself

Social networking sites, also known as SNS, include platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. The use of these social media platforms causes stress due to their use. When dealing with stress-induced by SNS, users do not just stop using them; instead, they change how they use them. For example, research revealed that social media users would switch from posting updates to scanning news feeds to chatting with friends, depending on which ones were inducing stress. They essentially “bounce around” the platforms to avoid stress, instead of cutting out social media use altogether. These actions may lead to an addiction to the social media platform itself. Using the same social media platforms that cause stress to battle stress seems illogical, but that is how the use becomes obsessive, compulsive, and, ultimately, an addiction. 

Social Media is Free Advertising

Seeing other people’s “highlighted” lives may cause negative emotions, such as jealousy and anger. Users of SNS are seeking solace from stress and using these sites as a means of escape or coping. Unfortunately, the use of SNS causes stress itself and may lead to anxiety disorders, depression, and addictions. Addiction to the SNS is not the only possible outcome, as social media use positively relates to increased alcohol use in young adults. The content generated on these social media platforms is from other users, so images of alcohol and drug use are rampant on these sites. Images of drinking and using drugs are known to influence young adults, and social media promotes the sharing of information and connecting to others. Alcohol and drug-related texts or statuses and photos of consumption or use abound on SNS. 

Therefore, other users unknowingly become advertisements for smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, and using drugs through their own social media pages. Although these advertised risky behaviors become displayed on social media platforms, they are not so quick to display the negative consequences of engaging in them. Embarrassment, hangovers, arrests, or other negative consequences associated with these risky behaviors are rarely, if ever, posted on SNS.

Furthermore, alcohol companies ask users to “like” their social media pages on Facebook and then ask them to take photos of themselves imbibing their specific alcohol beverage. There may be giveaways or contests associated with participating in these requests, which furthers the amount of “free advertising” for the alcohol company. It is difficult to censor the content that a social media user is exposed to on SNS like Facebook. Since generating an account does not require age-verification, you can choose whichever age you wish when setting up your page. Therefore, drug or alcohol-related content exposure for young adults is a real problem.

Psychological Theories Help Explain Social Media Influence

Social media strongly influences young adults and is explored through two classic psychological theories: Social Learning Theory and the Media Practice Model. The Media Practice Model suggests that the role of media choices influence intentions and behaviors, and young adults choose and interact with social media based on who they are or who they want to be in that moment. Therefore, social media users explore content based on behaviors they wish to engage in, which can lead to the reinforcement of these ideas. So, an adolescent who is contemplating alcohol consumption may decide to watch a movie or browse social media content that depicts drinking at a party, which in turn may inspire them to attend a party in the future. 

Social Learning Theory is a combination of two other theories, and suggests that there is a strong relationship between peer influence and behavior:

  1. Cognitive Learning Theory suggests that psychological factors influence learning.
  2. Behavioral Learning Theory presumes that we build learning upon our responses to environmental stimulants.

Therefore, combining the two theories, Social Learning Theory identifies four requirements for learning:

  1. Observation, or learning from others.
  2. Retention, or continued use of the substance.
  3. Reproduction or imitating behaviors.
  4. Motivation, or feeling rewarded by acting the same way as others.

Consequently, young adults learn through direct experience and observing others. Observing peers is a significant influence on young adults’ intentions, attitudes, and behaviors. This relationship is evidenced by early alcohol use, which is mainly dependent upon peer alcohol use. In regards to social media use, these observations are no longer limited to physical interactions, but are online, on cellphones and computers. 

Looking for Help?

Today, social media is pervasive in our society, easily available, and accessed continuously as a source of information for young adults. SNS combines the influence of social persuasion with the reach of mass media, and exposure to alcohol and drug use through these platforms is associated with higher instances of adolescent substance use. Social media is creating a more powerful influence on drinking behavior for these at-risk populations. At Enlightened Solutions, we offer a safe and nurturing space for a long-lasting road to recovery. If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, call us today at 833-801-LIVE.


Boundaries to Set For Those Struggling with Addiction

Boundaries are important for any kind of relationship you have whether it is between you and a friend, spouse, who you are dating, a professional, or someone with an addiction. These boundaries lay down the ground rules of what is considered to be appropriate behavior and actions. By establishing boundaries between yourself and your loved one facing addiction, you will be able to take care of yourself and establish a clear understanding of your wants and needs and clear communication of your thoughts and feelings.

When It’s Important to Establish Boundaries

The time to establish boundaries with your loved one with addiction is when you are constantly criticizing that person. You keep criticizing them for their bad behavior, but they are still ignoring what you are saying and causing more trouble. It can also be when you keep covering for this person liking lying for them when others ask about their behavior, covering for them at work by calling in sick for them, picking up that person from the bar, or bailing them out of jail.

It can also be when you are taken advantage of or if that person is stealing your money. You have felt like letting it pass because you know that their addiction is not their fault. At the same time, it is your bank account that is being wiped clean. You may also feel like you have to walk on eggshells around this person because they are quick to anger and depression if you say something to antagonize them. To avoid being afraid of your loved one, setting boundaries will show how you feel about their unhealthy behaviors and not letting them get away with it.

What is Allowed Near You and the House

Let your loved one know that if they plan on staying in your home, let them know what is and is not acceptable in your home. If you do not want illegal drugs like heroin and cocaine in your home, let your loved one know about it. If you do not want your loved one to drink in the presence of children, tell them that. You are being nice by letting your loved one stay in your home knowing that they have a problem with drugs. Let that person know that if they do not listen to you, they can find somewhere else to live or will notify the police. This is your home that you are kind enough to accept a guest in. Setting boundaries will give you control over where you live as well as the safety of your children.

Who is Allowed In Your Home

Your loved one may be in recovery but is still inviting their friends who still drink or do drugs. You should not have to put up with the wild parties of people in your house smelling like booze or people shooting up on drugs. You and your children should not have to be a witness to unhealthy behaviors and you should put a stop to it. Let them know that you may not be able to stop your loved one from keeping their friends but that they have no business appearing in your house and substance abusing in front of you and others.

Refusal to Rescue

Many people with addiction end up in jail for either possession of drugs or crimes involving in acquiring drugs like robbery or assault. If your loved one is not getting help, then that increases their chances of many jail visits. Maybe in the past, you have bailed your loved one out more than once and brought them back home. This time, you need to let your loved one know that you are not to bail them out again. That they need to take responsibility for their actions. Your loved one may not want to acknowledge their drug problem, but they should acknowledge the punishments that arise when the law takes notice of your criminal activities.

Refusal to Lend Money

Another way that you could enabling someone’s addiction is lending money whenever they ask such as telling you they are behind on rent, groceries, bills. If they have a drug problem, you know that they are using it to acquire more drugs. You are no longer a spouse, a friend, a sibling, a neighbor, etc. You are instead an enabler, caretaker, or a pleaser. Always giving money whenever your loved one asks is not taking care of them but ignoring their problem. A boundary you can set on them is that you refuse to give them any more money. That if they are in a financial bind, they can seek treatment to fix their thoughts about needing drugs or to get a job of their own to fund their drug habit instead of continuing to come to you. It may seem harsh to refuse when a loved one asks for money, but you are merely doing it to take care of yourself and your own financial assets.

Refusal to Lie or Cover Despite Circumstances

The most important thing you can tell your loved one who is struggling with drug addiction is that you will not lie or cover for them anymore. That your loved one needs to take responsibilities for their own actions. Setting these boundaries will show how much you take that person’s drug addiction seriously and to help them better be aware that they need treatment.

Located on the shore of Southern New Jersey, Enlightened Solutions is a recovery center that uses evidence-based therapies and holistic healing to treat addiction and mental illness. With the opportunity to learn about therapies that are keyed in to healing the human spirit and learning about new stress reducing techniques centered around a 12 step network, you will be ensure a lasting recovery. For more information, please call us at 833-801-LIVE as we are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


Loss of Control

Loss of Control

If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide, PLEASE call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

One of the scariest and most alarming side effects that can accompany addiction is a feeling of loss of control. We’re well aware that our addictions cause us to feel out of control pertaining to our addictive drug or behavior of choice, but what we are often less aware of is how out of control we can feel in all other areas of our lives. Addiction chips away at everything – our sense of self-control and discipline, our ability to conduct ourselves in healthy ways, our productivity and fulfillment. We can feel like we’re losing our connection to ourselves.

When struggling with addiction, we can start to experience a decline in our mental and emotional health. We might start to feel as though we can’t control our thoughts, feelings and actions. We might experience our behavior becoming increasingly more erratic and irrational. We might do dangerous things, such as drive drunk or disappear with strangers. The people around us might struggle to understand the things we say and do. They grow increasingly worried about us. We might speak incoherently and act in confusing ways that are painful for our loved ones to witness. We might become more impulsive and compulsive. We might be more reactive, overwhelmed and easily triggered.

We can have a hard time processing our thoughts and can become more confused, panicked and overwhelmed. We might struggle to understand even simple things. We can feel as though we’re nearing a mental breakdown, like we’re going crazy. These lesser-known side effects of addiction can be extremely scary and debilitating. We can struggle to hold onto our sanity. Our serenity and peace of mind can feel as though they’ve left us for good. We wonder if we’ll ever get our normal lives back.

Feeling this sort of loss of control can make us isolate ourselves even more than we already do because we’re worried people will think we’re crazy or dangerous. We might be hesitant to reach out for help because we’re afraid of people and inundated with thoughts of paranoia. We might feel unsafe no matter what we do. We feel a danger within ourselves that we can’t escape.

When we are in this painful place, sometimes the last thing we can do is reassure ourselves. We’re not thinking clearly or rationally. As much as you can, try to stay calm and remind yourself that you’ll get through this. Seek out the help of a trusted friend. Any time you feel in danger, don’t hesitate to go to the hospital, and if you feel suicidal, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

We understand the various effects of addiction, including the ones we don’t commonly talk about. The Enlightened Solutions community has years of personal and professional experience with recovery. Call us today: (833) 801-LIVE.


Why Are Synthetic Drugs So Dangerous?

Synthetic drugs can include popularly well known substances such as crystal meth, flakka, krokodil, and bath salts. Methamphetamines are central nervous system stimulant drugs. Compared to other substances, synthetics hit the system faster. With quicker access to the brain, synthetic drugs create a nearly instantaneous high which is powerful. Having direct impact on the central nervous system, synthetic drugs go racing through the nervous system and blood stream. Those who have abused synthetic drugs or have found themselves addicted report the sensations of euphoria firing on all nerves from brain to body. Unfortunately, the wild high of a synthetic drug does not last long. Synthetic drugs are cheap and sold is disguise in many easy to find places. Developing an addiction to synthetic drugs is easy when the drug is cheap, available, and ready to take one dose after another.

 

The Allure Of Synthetic Drugs

Powerful delivery of chemical substances to the brain results in a wide array of effects. Synthetic users report fantastical hallucinations, as well as severe paranoia. Crystal meth can keep someone up for ten days at a time in a blackout while simultaneously providing an excess of hormones and increasing sexual arousal. To those on the outside, the negative effects of synthetics would be a deterrent. For those who have experienced them, however, the positive is too good to pass up.

Problematically, continuing to use synthetic drugs is equivalent to gambling. Due to the chemical nature of synthetic drugs, the compound of one batch to the next will not be the same.

 

The Danger of Synthetic Drugs

Synthetics are made from an unpredictable variety of chemical substances from phosphorous to liquid drain cleaner. In an ongoing effort to fly under the watchful radar of local enforcement agencies, manufacturers of synthetic drugs are constantly changing the chemical recipe. As a result, synthetics addicts or those who recreationally experiment with them, are at risk.

At its worst, synthetic drugs can cause paranoia, elevated heart rate, high blood pressure, and overheating. While some report seeing God on synthetic drugs, many others report seeing the devil, from whom they run for their lives. Synthetics can cause stroke and cardiac arrest as well as permanent psychosis.

 

Enlightened Solutions is a coed treatment facility for men and women who want to heal and be liberated from their abusive relationship with chemical substances. We provide multiple levels of care and take insurance. For more information, call 833-801-5483.