Medically Reviewed By: Benjamin Caleb Williams RN, BA, CEN
Written By: Gary Bowers
Article Updated: 10/31/2022
Number of References: 12 Sources
Drug and alcohol abuse is a common problem on campuses across America. Many students will admit to a near-constant pressure to “do it all”. Social media presence, “fitting in”, extra-curricular activities, sex and dating, prestige, lack of parental supervision, and academic pressures combine to create the perfect environment for addiction to flourish. Besides the academic risks, drug and alcohol abuse on campus create a dangerous environment for students, particularly women and underclassmen.
In This Article:
Alcohol is by far the most abused drug on campus, but a significant number of college students are using prescription and illicit drugs to study more, relieve stress, and fit in. Drug withdrawal symptoms can be painful and some will go back to using to avoid the pain. Knowing the signs and symptoms can help turn someone towards more effective treatment, and long-term recovery.
Drug use on campus isn’t a rumor, and it isn’t just confined to frat parties. Alcohol consumption on campus is a significant public health problem. Adderall and amphetamine use have become commonplace. The numbers alone paint a staggering story:
It can take up to 25 years – well past college age – for the human brain to fully develop, and introducing the brain to addictive substances at a young age can literally wire the brain for addiction. While the brain can “rewire” at any age, the implications for this occurring at such a young age are profound and can reduce someone’s chances of long term recovery later in life. For many students, their first exposure to drugs and alcohol came before college, but the availability, ubiquity, and pervasive acceptance of drug and alcohol use in college – when combined with social pressure and less supervision – can lead to drug addiction and dependency.
The price students pay for addiction is too steep to ignore. Missing classes, poor grades, risky social and sexual behavior, and legal consequences can all derail students on their path to success.
It may not always be easy to distinguish the difference between drug and alcohol withdrawal symptoms and the stresses of college life, but it is possible. Here are some signs of drug withdrawal in college students:
A Sudden Decline in Grades or Performance: Though it’s reasonable to see fluctuation in a college student’s academic and/or athletic performance, what to watch for would be sudden or severe declines. If a student who normally earns excellent marks suddenly stops attending classes and fails courses, this would be a major warning sign of either drug abuse or withdrawal. Likewise for student-athletes; if their performance decreases or if they suddenly lose passion in their sport, this could be an indication of addiction or withdrawal.
Anxiety, Depression, Mood Swings, Confusion, and Irritability: These are all common symptoms of withdrawal. Some of these may seem “normal” for college students living busy lives, but when these feelings become persistent or reach more serious stages, it could be a symptom of withdrawal.
Focus on Working Rather than Going to School: If a student begins to focus more on earning money working than their studies their grades are likely to suffer, and it could be a sign they are engaging in drug use. This is a two-fold problem; one side would indicate a loss of enthusiasm or interest in school. The other side would indicate they are looking to earn money to keep using drugs to avoid withdrawal symptoms. Many students work, but when work takes priority over school, that could be an indication of a problem.
An Obsession with Going Out or Partying: Partying and socializing are important aspects of college life. When an interest in partying turns into an obsession, there may be underlying motives such as a desire to drink and use drugs to avoid withdrawal symptoms. For someone in active addiction, it can seem easier to hide your substance use – or your withdrawal – from others when you’re partying or using with other people. Look for excesses; when partying or going out turns into a weekly or especially a nightly affair, it could be the result of substance use disorder or substance withdrawal.
Physical symptoms of drug detox will vary from drug to drug. The severity of detox symptoms can depend on many factors including the personal history of drug abuse and underlying physical and mental issues.
Here are the physical detox symptoms for some of the more commonly used drugs on college campuses:
Once drug addiction or dependency becomes a reality for someone, medically managed detox is always recommended. Addressing and treating addiction in its early stages can result in fewer long-term consequences and complications. Thankfully there are several different types of medical detox facilities that are suited for every potential need:
Inpatient Detox: These centers are live-in detox facilities that may offer long-term rehabilitation services. A primary benefit of inpatient detox is the break from the influences and pressures of college life. College students in inpatient facilities can still participate in online courses offered by their university while still receiving 24/7 support for the recovery.
Outpatient Detox: This detox format is an ideal option for college students when inpatient treatment isn’t an option. Outpatient facilities would offer intensive medical and talk therapy, but on a timeline and schedule that can be accommodated alongside a hectic school schedule. Many outpatient facilities will offer treatment in the afternoon or evenings.
Rapid Detox: This is a fairly new method for detox whose effectiveness is still up for debate. These facilities have professional staff including medical doctors and psychiatrists who can oversee the physical process of detox. This is the shortest, but most expensive, method for detox and requires 24-hour care, medical monitoring, and oftentimes the use of anesthesia.
There are many elements to consider when selecting the right detox treatment center for your needs. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to recovery, and besides some of the typical considerations when choosing a care provider – things like accreditation, reviews, pricing, etc. – you will want to consider elements of care that will appeal to your specific needs.
Here are some primary elements college students look for in a detox facility:
You are never alone! There are a growing number of resources for college students in recovery. It is possible to battle substance use disorder AND achieve academic success. You can have it all if you’re willing to work for it and these resources can provide help.
For the most immediate assistanceCALL
OR submit you number and someone will call you shortly!
If you are seeking drug and alcohol related addiction rehab for yourself or a loved one, the sponsored hotline is a confidential and convenient solution.
Calls to any sponsored hotline (non-facility) will be answered by:
If you wish to contact a specific medical detox center then find a specific detox center using our detox locator tool.
Alternatives to finding addiction treatment or learning about substance abuse:
To learn more about how Detox Local operates, please contact us.