College brings many exciting experiences for students, but it also creates multiple stressors, including a heavier academic load and new responsibilities.
These stressors, combined with a new sense of independence, peer pressure, and readily available drugs and alcohol, can put college students at risk for addiction.
Often, people dealing with addiction hide the symptoms from their loved ones, but friends and family members can look for specific signs of substance abuse.
If you’re concerned about a friend, classmate, or roommate, you can look for the following signs of addiction.
Poor Academic Performance
Poor grades do not always indicate substance abuse, but if a student’s grades make a sudden drop, it is certainly a valid cause for concern.
Often, poor academic performance, especially in students who used to get good grades, is one of the first signs of substance abuse in college.
Not only does addiction affect cognition, but it also causes changes in people’s behavior and priorities.
As a result, when a person deals with addiction, they may spend less time on homework and studying, miss classes, and neglect other academic responsibilities.
Even when a student does not experience addiction, a sudden drop in grades can indicate mental health concerns such as depression, anxiety, or overwhelm.
Party culture can make addiction difficult to spot among college students.
Many college students go to parties, and while no amount of alcohol consumption is 100% safe, students without substance use disorders can consume alcohol without feeling compelled to do so.
If your friend or roommate goes to a lot of parties, you may wonder if they only go for the alcohol or if they’re just an outgoing person.
If this person’s partying becomes excessive, they may be dealing with substance abuse.
Some signs of excessive partying include:
inability to enjoy non-party activities
inability to remain sober at parties (for example, as a designated driver)
becoming obsessed with parties
feeling bored, frustrated, or upset when not partying
neglecting responsibilities in favor of partying
Social isolation is another tricky topic when it comes to addiction among college students, as it’s hard to spot when a healthy behavior becomes unhealthy.
Just like a person who attends parties may simply be very extroverted, a person who spends a lot of time alone may simply be very introverted, and neither of those traits are warning signs in and of themselves.
However, you can look for specific indicators that a preference for alone time has turned into social isolation, which may indicate addiction.
These indicators are:
a previously outgoing person suddenly becoming withdrawn
a loss of interest in hobbies, including solo activities such as crafts and puzzles
secretive or suspicious behavior
suddenly quitting sports teams, clubs, and other activities
only engaging with people who use substances
Neglected Appearance And Hygiene
On college campuses, it’s not unusual to see a student looking particularly tired or rushed, or even wearing pajamas to class.
A neglected appearance is one of the most obvious signs of substance abuse among non-student adults, but when does this sign become a source of concern among college students?
One sign you might look for is neglected hygiene. Because addiction consumes people’s attention, a person dealing with substance abuse may neglect self-care tasks such as showering, brushing their teeth, and changing into clean clothes.
Another warning sign is a drastic behavioral change relating to appearance.
For example, if a student who usually puts a lot of effort into their appearance suddenly stops caring, they may be experiencing a mental health concern.
Begin Addiction Recovery Today
Addiction is difficult, and the stressors of college life can make it even more complicated. However, recovery is possible, and resources are available for people of all ages and experiences.
If you or a loved one are dealing with substance abuse, contact Addiction Resource today to discover treatment choices.
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National Institute On Drug Abuse
National Library Of Medicine