When you’re a college student, it isn’t hard to gain access to parties, drugs and alcohol. It’s pretty much a package deal. There’s nothing wrong with a little partying once in awhile, but too often the expectation to live a fun, “college kid” lifestyle can hide a bigger problem. Sometimes, using drugs and alcohol on the weekends can progress into something even more severe.
Addiction involves both psychological and behavioral processes, and what a mighty duo this combination is. Once you choose to make that first decision to let your mind and body take on a life that you don’t have complete control over, you may give up that control for a little bit longer than you think. Drugs and alcohol both alter your body chemistry, and once your physical make-up is influenced by a powerful external source, it’s safe to say that the choices you make, even the ones unrelated to drugs, may be affected by the drug indirectly. Many people tend to brush off the idea that they’re addicted to a drug for a number of reasons: so they don’t have to stop, so they don’t have to feel like a victim of the drugs or so they don’t seem like a loser. Peer pressure does wonders.
It may be very difficult to be aware of and recognize when your dependency on anything is harming you or others around you, especially when a chemistry-altering substance is mixed into the equation. It’s helpful to know what signs and symptoms you can look for before it’s too late. Here are a list of signs that may help you find out whether or not you are addicted to drugs or alcohol.
- Priorities have shifted for the worse. You may have valued family, friends, school, work and hobbies at one point in your life. Now, you may have pushed all these areas of your life down a notch for another new area to take the #1 spot.
- Absence of the drug gets you down. When you don’t have access to your “happy place,” you feel depressed. Depressed meaning no motivation to do anything, generally low energy moods and general feelings of hopelessness. You may feel like you need the substance to feel like you again.
- You’re taking risks that you usually wouldn’t. Maybe you used to pride yourself in your work ethic, talents, or resilience, but now those qualities and your views on them have dampened a bit.
- Having a stash handy is very important. You are prepared for a drought; you make it a priority to have a stash on deck just in case.
- Withdrawals feel like hell. Pain may take on a whole new meaning after you experience cravings for drugs and alcohol. Because addiction involves both psychological and physical processes, the withdrawal stage will reflect exactly what the engagement stage induces on a different spectrum.
- You’ve dealt with the law. When you start seeing lines on your record or meeting the same police officers for the same problem or have just had bad run-ins with the law in general, it’s going to cripple not only your abilities, but the opportunities that may be given to you.
- You’re becoming financially unstable. Your bank account isn’t too happy about competing with your new interest and is looking a bit empty, and it traces back to splurging on one particular thing, whether it’s your next round of marijuana or a handle of vodka for that party this weekend.
- Interpersonal issues are increasing. It may be hard for you to maintain ties with your family or friendships if you have other priorities that come before all. Drug and alcohol addiction takes precedence and can overtake your personal relationships.
- Apathy. You don’t give a crap about anything except that superficial “happy place.” Nothing matters except your substance of choice.
- Forgetting about what once made you truly happy. Hobbies aren’t fun anymore. Things you used to enjoy as a kid that stuck with you into adulthood don’t hold the same meaning. They suddenly don’t matter.
Read the list and think seriously and honestly about whether or not any of them strike a chord with you. The road to full-blown addiction is made up of many small traps that are so seamlessly intertwined with the bad habits involved. It’s too easy to ignore the signs and very hard to snap back once you’re way down the road. Pay attention to what your mind and body needs and wants; listen to and care for your mind and body with respect and care.
If you feel like you may be heading down the road to addiction, it may not be too late. There are plenty of resources on the UNT campus for those facing issues related to drug and alcohol addiction. The Substance Abuse Resource Center (SARC) involves “psychoeducation for students dealing with substance dependency or violations.” The center provides services such as:
- support for students in recovery
- assistance to alcohol-free students and students who are looking to cut back
- a walk-in resource room with books, brochures and realistic alcohol and other drug information
- scheduling presentations for residence halls, classrooms or student organizations
- host responsibility training
- tailored drug and alcohol education
- co-sponsorship opportunities, with organizations or with special events planned by this office
If you wish to speak with a SARC professional, call 940.565.3177 for more help.
Photo by: Michael Shuey