College Students Struggling with Depression and Substance Abuse

Depression among college students is on the rise. Going off to college can be one of the most stressful experiences a young adult has gone through at this point in his or her life. This is the first time they may be leaving home. It is a time filled with meeting new friends, intense studying, new surroundings and emotional changes. It is a time where most students feel pressured to live up to an expectation by their parents and peers.

What Are the Causes of College-Age Depression?

Many college students did not suffer from depression before college. This condition is growing rapidly among young adults. Some factors that contribute to college-age depression include the following:

  • New surroundings
  • Higher academic demand
  • First-time financial responsibilities
  • New social settings
  • Greater peer pressure and temptations
  • Exposure to new cultures and ideas

College students are bombarded with new friends, new information and more stress than they have ever had to deal with. This is part of the reason why they are more open to drugs and alcohol. In some ways, it can help them deal with anxiety and depression.

Why Substance Abuse?

Drugs and alcohol are abundant on most college campuses. Some students are experimenting with new things that they have never done before. Other students have found that drugs and alcohol have helped them cope with different situations throughout their college career. Different drugs give different desired effects. Some of these drugs and their effects include the following:

  • Opiates: Opiates are drugs found in many painkillers. Opiates produce euphoric effects and a sense of wellbeing.
  • Amphetamine: Often knows as “speed,” amphetamine helps students focus and is widely used during mid-term and final exams. Amphetamine can help students stay up all night without feelings of anxiety and fatigue. Athletes will also use this drug, because it can help them perform at a higher level than normal.
  • Marijuana: Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug on any college campus. It is a psychoactive drug that changes the user’s mood and gives him or her the feeling of relaxation and euphoria.

There are many other drugs that college students will take throughout their career. All of these drugs will give a false sense of “escape.” The initial use might not have been to escape from anything, but after the student has felt the effects, they tend to go back for more. Most of these experimental or prescription drugs are addictive. Over a short period of consistent use, they will begin to create a tolerance and even dependence within the student’s body. Psychological dependence occurs, as the student begins to habitually turn to substance abuse to feel better. Addiction is closely related to dependence and develops soon after.

Combining substance abuse with depression is a deadly combination. Drugs will never ultimately cure depression. It will only give the false hope that it does not exist for that moment. This can lead to serious addiction and potential drug overdose.

Where Can I Get Help for Both Depression and Substance Abuse?

If you, your student or your child is struggling with both depression and substance abuse, we can help. We are here to help 24 hours a day. Our trained counselors know about college-age depression and can help you deal with depression without needing drugs. Call our toll-free helpline today, we’re ready to listen.