Addiction Treatment for College Students
Rehab for College Students
College is an exciting and often stressful time for many young people. It is also when many young people choose to drink heavily or experiment with drugs. Substance misuse coincides with many dangerous health risks—one of the most serious being the development of substance use disorder (SUD).
But what makes college such a hotspot for substance misuse and addiction, and what’s the right way to go about treating addiction in college students?
Dangers of Addiction in College
There are many different factors that make college students susceptible to addiction. First, there’s the culture of drinking in college. Whether it occurs in frat or sorority houses, dorm rooms, or sporting events, peer pressure and fear of missing out seem to be major contributing factors.
Despite many college students being under 21 years old (the legal drinking age in the United States), binge drinking remains a serious problem at many universities throughout the country. A 2014 survey published by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) found that 60% of students between 18 and 22 drank within the previous month. Of the students that drank, around 66% admitted to binge drinking. Binge drinking—consuming 5 drinks within 2 hours for men or 4 drinks within 2 hours for women—is associated with many negative health effects, including immediate serious injury or death. Chronic drinking can lead to dependency and alcohol use disorder (AUD), the long-term effects of which can be devastating.
But it’s not just drinking that is problematic for college students. The misuse of “study drugs,” like Adderrall or Ritalin is especially prevalent in universities, since many students feel these drugs improve their scholastic performance. Indeed, these drugs are generally safe when prescribed for attention deficit disorder or attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD) and used according to doctor’s recommendations. However, misuse of prescription stimulants can be addictive and prolonged misuse can cause lasting damage to the brain and body.
Prescription opioids, which have a calming, euphoric effect, are also disproportionately misused by young adults, according to the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). Opioid misuse has many serious health effects, including the risk of fatal overdose, which claimed the lives of approximately 93,000 Americans in 2020.
However, addiction is a treatable illness, meaning there is hope for college students struggling with drugs or alcohol.
Treating Substance Abuse Disorder in College Students
Addiction treatment cannot be successful with a one-size-fits-all approach. The appropriate setting, length of treatment, and the right combination of medication and therapy will vary based on the patient’s individual needs.
Alcohol rehab for college students (or any other demographic) often requires medical detox before treatment can proceed. This is especially vital when someone is expected to go through moderate to severe withdrawal, as severe withdrawal symptoms from alcohol can be life threatening. This may be needed in drug addiction treatment as well, depending on many factors (e.g., the patient’s health, the drug of choice, severity of their dependency, etc.). Detox ensures that a patient withdraws from physical dependency as comfortably and safely as possible.
Detox, however, does not encompass all of substance use treatment for college students or any other age group. Without building the skills to recognize, avoid, and overcome triggers, forming positive thought and behavioral patterns, and developing healthy interpersonal relationships, many people will not be successful in long-term recovery. This is why an evidence-based approach to therapy in addiction treatment is crucial; much of this is done in rehabilitation treatment after a patient has completed medical detox.
Laguna Treatment Hospital is a medical detox center in California, as well as an inpatient/residential rehabilitation facility that is equipped to treat varying demographics of patients and address their unique needs.
Transitioning Back to College After Drug & Alcohol Rehab
Recovery is a life-long process. This means much of the work and struggle continues after treatment ends. The initial shock of leaving a treatment facility and transferring directly back into the outside world can be very jarring, especially when re-entering a fast-paced environment like a university. Laguna Treatment Hospital has a robust aftercare program and works with each patient individually to make this transition as smooth as possible.
Continuing care programs can help former patients stay connected to their fellow alumni, track recovery milestones, and form a positive network that is conducive to sobriety. Attending peer-support meetings is an invaluable component of recovery for many people
If you or a loved one is considering treatment for drugs or alcohol, please reach out to an admissions navigator at to learn more about the care provided at Laguna Treatment Hospital. Admissions navigators can also explain in detail what to expect in addiction treatment, the process of paying for rehab with insurance, and what family members can expect when a loved one enters treatment.