Is Outpatient Treatment Appropriate For College Students?

Many college students find themselves abusing drugs and alcohol for various reasons. Some young adults use drugs to study, while others overindulge in alcohol to fit in. Some athletes misuse steroids or prescription drugs to improve performance, while college students involved with Greek life might feel compelled to use substances for social reasons. Although common, misusing prescription pills, drinking excessively, and using drugs are dangerous habits that can have grim and sometimes fatal consequences. The good news is that college students can receive treatment for substance abuse and addiction challenges without quitting school.

Facts and Statistics on College Drug Abuse

Research consistently shows that drug and alcohol use among students is a troubling trend at colleges and universities across the country. According to data revealed in a recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health:

  • Approximately 1 in 5 college-aged adults smoked cigarettes
  • An estimated 55% of young adults drank alcohol, and about 35% of them binge drank regularly
  • Almost 1.9 million young adults misused opioids such as OxyContin, Vicodin, Percocet, Avinza, Opana, codeine, and morphine
  • Approximately 39% of young adults used illicit drugs such as cocaine, ketamine, heroin, LSD, and MDMA
  • An estimated 5.5% of college-aged people misused pain-relieving drugs
  • More than 6 million young adults met the criteria for a substance use disorder

Data from a 2019 National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) report reveals that more than 50% of full-time college students admitted to drinking alcohol at least once a month. Twenty-eight percent of college students reported binge drinking at least once.

According to a Monitoring the Future College Students and Young Adults Survey, marijuana use among college-aged students is at an all-time high. In 2018, 42.5 percent of college students admitted to using marijuana consistently.

What Substances Are College Students Abusing?

Research shows that most college students who misuse drugs choose prescription medications like Adderall, illicit substances like marijuana, or alcohol. Although common, these aren’t the only substances abused by college students.

Some of the most common substances abused by young adults in colleges and universities include:

  • Alcohol is one of the most accessible addictive substances due to its availability at parties and other social gatherings. Even though socializing is a significant part of the college experience, excessive drinking and alcohol abuse can lead to addiction. Becoming addicted to alcohol can cause blackouts, unintentional injuries, liver disease, alcohol poisoning, high blood pressure, stroke, and cardiovascular diseases.
  • Stimulants. Many college students misuse prescription stimulants to increase their ability to concentrate. In addition to promoting wakefulness, these drugs can also temporarily boost a person’s ability to focus. Students generally use these substances, which include Adderall, Concerta, and Provigil, to stay awake. But using these medications without a prescription is illegal and potentially harmful.
  • Ecstasy, also known as MDMA or molly, is an illicit stimulant. When consumed, ecstasy tablets and pills release serotonin in the brain, boosting feelings of happiness and excitement. Even though ecstasy may not seem like a dangerous club drug to college students, using the substance recreationally can lead to addiction.
  • Marijuana is also known as cannabis or weed. In addition to smoking this drug, college students often incorporate marijuana into edibles, baked goods, and candy to experience temporary euphoria and even hallucinations. Even though marijuana doesn’t typically lead to physical dependence, the substance can lead to psychological dependence and increase the risk of experiencing mood swings, negative emotions, and mental health challenges.
  • Xanax is a popular benzodiazepine pill that doctors prescribe to relieve anxiety and panic disorder symptoms. When consumed, Xanax slows down the body’s heart rate and breathing, creating a sense of calm and sedation. Many college students take Xanax to cope with stress and anxiety. Unfortunately, Xanax is highly addictive and can cause a substance use disorder if used continually.
  • Cocaine is a popular party drug many college students use to feel more productive and energetic. But the risks associated with cocaine are not worth the drug’s temporary effects. Abusing cocaine can lead to blood clots, increased blood pressure, an irregular heart rate, stroke, chest pain, and heart attack.

The good news is college students grappling with addiction can get the help they need from outpatient addiction treatment.

What Is Outpatient Treatment?

Outpatient rehabilitation is a non-residential, behavioral therapy-based treatment for drug and alcohol addiction. Unlike inpatient rehab, this treatment program doesn’t require people to spend a certain amount of time living in a rehabilitation center. Instead, people can live independently and attend therapy sessions as scheduled.

Generally, outpatient addiction treatment is most effective for people who have:

  • Mild to moderate addiction
  • A robust support system, including family and friends
  • Reliable transportation to attend counseling sessions
  • Determination and motivation to attend treatment sessions consistently
  • Low risk of medical complications when they undergo withdrawal from their preferred substance

During outpatient treatment, individuals take part in different types of therapy, including, but not limited to:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT)
  • Individual and group therapy
  • Peer support groups
  • Family therapy
  • Music therapy
  • Art therapy

Often, individuals try different types of counseling and therapy to find what works best. Many individuals participating in outpatient addiction treatment also go through the 12-step program for recovery.

Benefits of Outpatient Treatment For College Students

College students looking to quit using substances may want to consider outpatient rehabilitation because of the unique benefits this type of treatment provides. In addition to being able to continue living on campus or at home, college students receiving outpatient treatment can:

  • Continue going to school. Outpatient treatment programs are flexible enough that college students may be able to continue going to class without disrupting their academic plans. Outpatient treatment sessions can often be scheduled in the afternoon, evening, or on the weekends, depending on an individual’s specific needs.
  • Develop a healthier social circle. The college years are as much about social development as they are academic direction. Individuals looking to recover from addiction challenges will need to develop healthier, sober social circles in order to avoid relapse. Group therapy, peer support groups, and 12-step meetings can help college students find like-minded friends who are also looking to have a sober college experience.
  • Use insurance to help pay for treatment. Addiction treatment can be expensive, but outpatient costs are more affordable for people on a tight budget and are usually covered by insurance.
  • Have access to outreach resources such as support groups and sober friends. Addiction doesn’t develop or go away overnight. In fact, many people need aftercare and continued support long after their treatment ends. Outpatient treatment can provide students with the resources they need to maintain their sobriety and long-term recovery. Some of the clinical resources we provide include:
    • Employment assistance
    • Nutritional counseling
    • Family support program
    • Help with continuing education

Some other benefits of outpatient addiction treatment include:

  • Psychiatric care that addresses mental health
  • Being able to work while receiving treatment
  • Motivation and encouragement

Real Recovery For Real People

Here, at Meta Addiction Treatment, we pride ourselves on providing real recovery for real people. College can be a fun and exciting time in an adolescent’s life. But we also know that attending college can be stressful, overwhelming, lonely, and full of social pressures. Living through that kind of experience can leave young adults feeling depressed and anxious. Feeling that way can lead to self-medication and addiction. But there’s hope.

Outpatient treatment programs can help college students get their life back on track without missing a semester or year of school. Outpatient programs can also help students develop healthier social circles and find like-minded friends. The missteps you make in college shouldn’t define your entire life. Contact us today if you or a college student you love is grappling with addiction challenges. We can help them have an enjoyable, healthy, and thriving college experience without drugs or alcohol.

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