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Spotting Addiction in Your College-Aged Kids Home for the Holidays

Addiction Alexa Iocco | December 14, 2021

Spotting Addiction in Your College-Aged Kids Home for the Holidays

For many parents of college-aged kids, the holidays mean much more because their kids come home for a few weeks during their winter break after months of being away from home. College is a great place to explore and learn, and also to grow as young adults. Many students also take this time to experiment with drugs and alcohol. Stress from classes, pressure from friends, and negative experiences can lead experimentation to substance abuse and addiction

Although not every young adult is subject to alcoholism or drug abuse from going to college parties, there is still the potential for using substances as a negative coping skill. Students with underlying mental health conditions are especially vulnerable to the added stresses of being away from home, struggles with independence, and academic pressures.

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Recognizing the signs of addiction and substance misuse in college students is crucial for parents who want to support their children in getting the help they need. It’s not uncommon for students to initially turn to drinking or drugs as a way to cope with the stress of school or newfound freedom. Some may use substances to stay focused or energized during long study sessions. However, this reliance can lead to negative consequences. For those who need specific information on managing medication dependency, such as a Sertraline Withdrawal Schedule, it’s important to seek out comprehensive resources.

While some young adults may return to healthier habits after college, others may develop addiction issues that persist. Parents can play a vital role in identifying these signs early and seeking assistance for their children. If you suspect your child is struggling with substance misuse or addiction, it’s essential to reach out to a trusted drug rehab center near Costa Mesa for guidance and support.

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College Kids Home for the Holidays? Look out for These Signs of Addiction

The first signs you should look for in spotting addiction in your kids are behavioral changes. Most of these can be very subtle but it is worth taking a deeper look into changes you see in their personality to ensure they are not struggling with addiction. Here are the main changes parents should be alert for:

Changes in Weight, Appetite, and Physical Appearance

Weight changes are common in young people living away from home, but sudden, unexplained changes can indicate something is not right. Excessive alcohol use can cause weight gain, especially around the belly, while other drugs that suppress appetite can cause rapid weight loss. Generally, a person who is misusing substances may look much less healthy in general.

Poor Grades or Avoiding Talking about Grades

While there are many possible reasons for low grades, substance abuse can be a cause. Or, low grades can lead to substance abuse as well. A student who is unwilling to discuss their college grades or brush off poor grades may be misusing substances.

Poor Self-Care and Hygiene

People who are misusing substances often are more focused on getting the chance to use again or recovering from the effects of a recent binge. Addiction tends to affect the young adult’s capability or motivation for self-care and personal habits, such as taking regular showers, grooming themselves, or brushing their teeth.

Drastic Changes in Social Behaviors, Friends, and Hangouts

Social changes are expected after moving away from home, but extreme changes can signal an issue. You may notice they no longer see long-time friends and adopt an entirely new social scene. They may also stop the hobbies they once loved or stop going to the places they used to hang out with their friends.

Changes in Sleeping Patterns

College students will often adopt irregular sleep habits due to classes and studying. Also, teens and young adults tend to sleep more than the average adult. However, sleeping patterns that are highly unusual to their norm and interfere with daily life could be a red flag for substance abuse.

Changes in Mood

Although teenagers are subject to mood swings at times, substance abuse can also cause mood swings. It can cause a person to have more angry outbursts or be more irritable.

Signs of Intoxication, Especially at Odd Times

Signs of intoxication include slurred speech, loss of coordination, and bloodshot eyes. It is more concerning if you observe these signs during the day and on a regular basis.

Unexplainable Financial Issues

Most college students are struggling with money or on a very strict budget. Excessive substance abuse can add even more strain to money issues. You may notice they are having money problems and are also giving excuses and odd explanations for their trouble,

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College Students and Addiction

Substance abuse is common among college students and many have easy access to illicit substances such as stimulants, marijuana, or alcohol. Opioid abuse has declined but marijuana and heroin use are on the rise and alcohol abuse remains an issue among college students. Young adults enrolled in a full-time college program are twice as likely to abuse substances than those who are not in college.

High rates of drug abuse in college-aged students are due to a number of reasons. One is coping with stress from coursework, internships, social obligations, and part-time jobs. Some use stimulants such as Adderall to help them stay awake to complete assignments or study. Peer pressure is also a big factor. When they see their friends experimenting with recreational or performance-enhancing drugs, they are more likely to try it themselves. There is also a high rate of mental illness, such as anxiety and depression, among college students and they may use substances in order to cope with those issues.

Common Signs of Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol continues to be the most misused substance among college students. Drinking week after week causes the body to start building a tolerance to alcohol and greatly increases the chances of developing alcoholism. Some of the common signs of alcohol addiction are:

  • Frequently showing signs of intoxication such as poor coordination, slurred speech, impaired thinking, and memory loss.
  • Being secretive about their alcohol abuse in order to protect it. If someone suggests cutting back, they get angry and defensive.
  • Taking time away from work, school, family, and friends to drink. They often are enthusiastic about social events around alcohol and will avoid those that do not.
  • Risky behavior while under the influence, insisting they are ok. This includes drinking and driving, participating in physical dangerous activities, and other actions that sober judgment would prevent.
  • Physical and emotional symptoms of alcohol withdrawal such as profuse sweating, extreme irritability, and trembling hands, which get better after drinking.
  • Wanting to stop drinking but not being able to do so.
  • High tolerance to alcohol by being able to drink several beers, shots, etc. and not show signs of intoxication.
  • Their personality changes when they are under the influence.
  • They are suffering consequences from drinking, such as DUI, losing their jobs, or a drop in their grades.

Common Signs of Drug Addiction

Several drugs are common among college students, including marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and prescription stimulants like Adderall. Some addiction signs and symptoms are:

  • Extreme lethargy
  • Changes in weight, appetite and eating habits
  • Irregular sleeping patterns, falling asleep in odd places and times, or difficulty falling asleep
  • Marks on skin
  • Bloodshot eyes, watery eyes, or pinpoint pupils
  • Poor personal hygiene, or chemical odor on breath or clothes
  • Loss of physical coordination, tremors, or seizures
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies
  • Sudden change in personality. For example, usually shy and suddenly become hyper and talkative.
  • Secretive behavior, repeatedly lying, and deceitful
  • Poor grades or performance at work
  • Financial issues

Accepting Your Child Has an Alcohol or Drug Addiction

Finding out your child has a substance abuse disorder can trigger anger, shock, fear, and heartbreak. However, those closest around them, especially parents, can help them overcome their issues through support. The sooner young adults receive help for their addiction, the better their chances to conquer their disorder and go on to live healthy and productive lives.

The first step is to acknowledge your child may have a drug or alcohol problem. Taking action early on by talking to your child about their alcohol or drug use is key to their recovery or even prevention of addiction. Letting them know you support them and encourage them to get the help they need, whether it is campus resources or if severe enough, an inpatient rehabilitation center.

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Recognizing the signs of addiction during their holiday break is not about trying to shame them or punish them. Offering help through compassion and understanding can help save your child’s life and get them back on track to a more productive and healthy life.

Drug and alcohol addiction is a disease that is treatable. Addiction treatment through detox clinics, outpatient, and inpatient programs with dual-diagnosis treatment, like at Resurgence Behavioral Health, is available. With a combination of individual counseling, behavioral therapy, group therapy, and coping mechanisms, your child can overcome their substance abuse issues.

If you see signs of drug addiction in your college-aged child, don’t hesitate and take the necessary steps to get them to help today by reaching out to a trusted drug rehab facility. Give us a call today and speak to one of our addiction specialists to help get your child on the road to recovery.

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