Drugs and Alcohol Run Rampant on College Campuses Across the United States
It’s no secret that college kids like to party. They are away from home for the first time and there is no essentially no adult supervision. It’s reasonable to expect that young adults are going to experiment with drugs and drink alcohol as a way to celebrate their independence. However; you might be surprised to learn that drugs and alcohol are available to college students like never before.
According to a 2016 report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMSHA), more than one-third of full-time college students aged 18 to 22 engage in binge drinking every month. About one in five use an illegal substances like marijuana, cocaine, or crystal meth.
Other college students abuse legal prescription drugs as a way to cope with the pressure of life on campus. Some use prescription stimulants like Adderall or Ritalin (also known as “study buddies”), which give them a surge of energy so they can cram for tests. Others take tranquilizers like Xanax and Valium to manage stress. And, some take legal opioids like Oxycodone as a way to take “a mental break.”
In no uncertain terms, if your daughter is attending college, she has immediate access to drugs and alcohol.
Navigating the College Years – A Word to the Wise
There is a fine line between age-appropriate experimentation and addiction. And, parents and their unsuspecting daughters often don’t know the difference between the two. To be sure, if your daughter is attending college, she is at risk for developing a substance use disorder.
Addiction affects young women in profound ways. What can start out as an innocent curiosity about drugs and alcohol can quickly turn into a full-blown substance use disorder. As a parent, it is important that you stay vigilant about your daughter’s drug and alcohol use. That way, if you suspect there is problem, you can take swift action and address the situation immediately.
Here are five signs that your daughter is struggling with an addiction in college:
1. Your Daughter’s Grades Are Suffering
One of the most obvious signs that your daughter is struggling with addiction in college is poor academic performance. Sure, college is tough. It’s demanding. It’s a lot of work. BUT, if your daughter maintained good grades through high school and she is now suddenly bringing home C’s, D’s, or F’s – this should be a red flag.
It is not uncommon for college students to get caught up in the party scene and completely neglect their studies. Chronic hangovers, daily drug or alcohol use, and withdrawal symptoms will negatively impact even the brightest college student. It is next to impossible to manage an addiction AND a challenging class schedule. Eventually, students who struggle with a substance use disorder will miss class, forgo studying, and fail to complete assignments.
2. You Notice a Change in Your Daughter’s Behavior – For the Worse
If your daughter goes to school locally, identifying a change in behavior shouldn’t be a problem. You know your daughter, you know how she behaves, and you have a general idea of how she spends her time. However; if your daughter is away at college, this can be a bit more challenging. Talking to her on the phone regularly and scheduling frequent visits can make it easier for you to observe behavioral changes.
If you notice that your daughter seems hostile, cries more than usual, shows signs of depression, or seems erratic in any way, she might be in trouble. An addiction to drugs or alcohol causes emotional instability, agitation, uncontrollable crying, and other obvious changes in behavior. If you think your daughter’s moods are unstable and she seems “out of sorts” a lot, she might be struggling with an addiction.
3. Your Daughter Continually Asks for Money or Has Financial Problems
If your daughter is constantly hitting you up for cash or complaining that she is always coming up short with whatever budget the two of you have worked out – beware. This could be a sign that your daughter is abusing drugs or alcohol.
Having a problem with addiction gets expensive FAST. Maintaining a habit can be very costly – especially on college campuses where dealers jack up the price for pills, pot, and other drugs. And, binge-drinking at bars or clubs can break the bank with a quickness. Because college students are generally inexperienced with managing money (and naïve about how quickly addiction can take over), they can wind up completely broke in the blink of an eye. They may use up funds dedicated for books and tuition to feed their addiction.
If your daughter seems to be in dire financial straights on a consistent basis, she may be struggling with addiction while attending college.
4. Your Daughter Avoids Talking to You or Coming to Visit
Whether your daughter is going to college locally or she is away at school, it is important that she maintain accountability to you. This allows you to observe her behavior and stay connected to her life. Without regular communication, you can easily lose sight of what is really going on with her.
Take notice if your daughter suddenly starts to avoid you. She may want to communicate by text rather than talk on the phone because she knows she is slurring her words or sounds “speedy.” She might make excuses about coming to visit because she doesn’t want you to notice there has been a change in her appearance. Or, she could possibly start avoiding you altogether.
If regular phone conversations or visits start to become an issue, this should definitely be cause for concern.
5. You Have An Intuitive Feeling That Something Is Not Quite Right
You know your daughter – perhaps better than anyone on the planet. Don’t underestimate your own intuition. If you feel like something is “off,” it probably is. If she seems like she is “not herself,” she may be struggling with an addiction.
Keep in mind that addiction and dishonesty go hand-in-hand. She may lie to you if she has a substance abuse disorder because she is ashamed and she doesn’t want you to know. Or, she may lie to you because she is lying to herself. Denial is common among college students who use drugs and alcohol frequently. They think they are having harmless fun and they don’t realize the danger that they are in.
Not Sure if Your Daughter is Struggling with Addiction in College?
If you believe your daughter may have a drug or alcohol problem, but you’re not sure, we’re here to help. At New Directions for Women, we have been helping women of all ages get sober for 40 years and we believe in restoring health and wellness to families. We can provide a free, confidential assessment to help you determine if your daughter has an addiction that requires treatment.