Struggling with drug addiction in college? You’re not alone

GVL Staff

The most difficult part was admitting I had a problem. I was a high-achieving student in high school, and my first semester in college I did really well.

But then slowly I began to slip. I started skipping class, not doing my homework and failing tests. There were times I didn’t leave my room for days. My grades started to drop as I was developing this depression, which severely worsened it.

I wanted a quick solution to help turn things around. I saw a doctor who prescribed me Adderall for my ADHD, which he said I had. The effects were instant to me: it helped me become more alert during class and motivated to do school work. One small pill seemed to fix all my problems.

If I felt like staying in my bed all day, I would take one Adderall. If I couldn’t focus on my homework, I took another. If I wasn’t motivated to go to class, I’d take one more. I sometimes would take three to four pills a day. I conditioned myself to take Adderall every time I had feelings of fatigue, loss of interest or “emptiness,” because without that medication I felt I wasn’t good enough.

I didn’t feel I was addicted because I saw a practical purpose for the medicine and a doctor had prescribed it. It wasn’t until I ran out and experienced heavy withdrawal symptoms that I was able to reflect on how my problems were not being solved, but rather being covered up by the medicine. I didn’t take Adderall after that.

It was hard because I didn’t think of myself as being a “drug addict” or even at risk of being one. Yet according to Rehab Spot, an organization that helps people overcome drug addiction, college students make up a large piece of drug addicts.

With many college students, the problem is alcohol. Addiction Resource, an informational agency on drug addiction, says it is the most commonly abused drug on college campuses. Drinking affects everyone differently, dangerously so in depressed and certain mentally ill people.  The short-term mood lift drinking gives you can lead to a dependency on drinking to alleviate depressive thoughts whenever they appear, which then leads to alcoholism.

Many addictions occur in people who struggle with feelings of inadequacy and low self-worth. It’s not usually the drug itself, but rather the mental illness that drives people to seek drastic measures to try to change their thoughts. On its own, Adderall is a tool that helps many people with ADHD focus. Drinking and smoking weed in moderation are also not considered harmful to your body. But once that substance becomes intertwined in your identity, once you rely on it everyday or else you aren’t yourself, then you have to realize the pleasure has overstayed its welcome.

Many people feel shame about their addiction, and feel they’re too busy with school work to seek treatment. However, there are many outpatient rehab centers that accommodate for student schedules, and GVSU has both regular Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings for students.

It’s important to suggest — but not force — an addicted person to seek treatment, because an addict has to want to get better for themselves, because in the end that’s who they’re fighting for.