By Sandy Baker
Grades, papers, extracurricular activities, social interactions, and all of those seminars can make college a stressful time for many students. Parents might add more pressure, as might those lurking on student loans. It’s not uncommon for many college students to turn to drugs and alcohol as a way of coping with stress.
Why Drugs and Alcohol Just Make Everything Worse
Many college students use alcohol to help ease their stress. Others might use marijuana or other depressants to help relax. Yet others use stimulants and prescription medications for ADD and ADHD to enhance focus and energy. Overuse of any of these substances has drastic consequences, including the potential for overdosing and developing dependency.
In a study of college students who self-reported using illicit drugs, 63 percent reported at least one negative consequence in the past year. Studies link drug use among college students to poor academic performance and high-risk behavior.
What Can You Do to Help with Anxiety?
You’re not alone in your battle to manage anxiety and frustration in college. For those who are facing complications from drug use, the first step is to seek out drug and alcohol treatment. Once you are on the road to recovery, consider these strategies for reducing the anxiety and stress of college life.
#1: Approach Problems Instead of Avoiding Them
One of the strategies of managing anxiety and stress in a college situation is to deal with whatever is causing that stressor. When you avoid challenges, you only make the problem bigger. Rather than procrastinate and worry, do something to solve the challenge. Here are some ideas:
- Be okay with saying no to friends or organizations that demand too much of your time.
- Keep a planner and start homework assignments immediately. Study for tests over the course of weeks, not hours.
- Talk to your professors. Ask for help.
- Visit the tutoring center on campus (most universities and colleges offer some level of free tutoring). Create your own study group.
#2: Create Some Level of Self-Care
In addition to tackling problems instead of avoiding them, you can also create your own self-care tool-kit that allows you to take some quiet time to relax and gather your energy. Some strategies for this may include:
- Getting a good sleep every night.
- Creating a schedule that has built-in time for relaxation and unwinding.
- Dedicating some time each day to physical activity that you enjoy.
- Limiting caffeine, especially in the evening.
- Eating a healthy diet, including vegetables and vitamins.
A combination of all of these factors can help increase your body’s ability to manage stress. And don’t forget the power of friendship. Talking about your day with a good friend can go a long way toward relieving stress.
#3: Recognize the Need for More Help
Sometimes college students feel invincible. They think they can do it all. Your anxiety may motivate you to do more than others, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be consequences. When you are facing anxiety on a constant basis, recognize that you may have an anxiety disorder and could benefit from professional help.
- Determine if your school has resources for mental health services.
- Ask the university health center for a recommendation for therapy.
- Consider online chat and virtual therapist appointments if you do not have access to in-person help.
- Find out if there’s a doctor or therapist back home that can help you from a distance.
Be proactive about your anxiety. The risk of using drugs and alcohol during your college years is already very high. You don’t want the strain of anxiety to push you to the point of dependence and addiction.
If you’re already using drugs and alcohol to deal with your anxiety, it’s time to get help. Let our team at The Ranch at Dove Tree assess your needs and provide compassionate, nonjudgmental treatment.