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We are a private pay treatment center and do not accept any type of insurance. Costs associated with care are the responsibility of the client.

Wednesday, 23 January 2019 14:42

How Social Anxiety Affects Learning

Stress and anxiety are widespread experiences in college. You may be fearful over an upcoming exam or project or be intimidated about meeting new people on campus. One could argue that everyone who has pursued higher education has had one or two or a dozen anxious moments. Because anxiety is so prevalent in university life, social anxiety disorder (SAD) is one of the most underdiagnosed mental health conditions among college students.

Those with SAD have anxiety or fear about being watched, judged or embarrassing themselves. Most students look forward to the new experiences and challenges that college life brings. But for someone with social anxiety, their fear and discomfort can interfere with everyday aspects of being a student.

Whether you have been diagnosed with SAD or you suspect that you may struggle with the disorder, here are some of the ways social anxiety can interfere with your learning experience at college.

Social Anxiety's Effects on Learning

When a student has social anxiety, there is little about their life on campus that remains untouched by the disorder. Social interactions, class projects, test taking and even romantic relationships can all be affected by SAD.

Some of the most common ways the disorder impacts young adults in learning environments include:

  • Speaking out in class: As part of the classroom experience, professors expect students to take an active role in class discussions. Sometimes this even involves oral projects where students make presentations in front of the class. No matter if the class size is 10 or 200, those with social anxiety find it near impossible to speak out in this environment. There is always a worry about being negatively evaluated.
  • Test-taking: Another aspect of the disorder is an overwhelming fear of failure. Although most people would prefer to get the right answer on a test rather than a wrong one, doing poorly usually doesn't impact how they see themselves. Those with SAD view themselves as failures if they're unable to do well, and these feelings sometimes cause them to freeze up when taking tests.
  • Social interactions: Whether it's working with a group for a class project, speaking to a professor or even attending a party, college is filled with ample opportunities to interact with other people and make friends. In fact, most jobs you'll apply to after college assume you learned essential interpersonal skills while earning your degree. Those with social anxiety tend to avoid any situation that will make them feel self-conscious. Unfortunately, this excludes them from many social experiences.
  • Dropping out: Because of the many challenges those with social anxiety disorder face in their daily life on campus, there is a high risk of them dropping out of school. This impacts them both in the present and their future, as it limits later employment opportunities and may lead to a reduced income.

Know When to Seek Help

Thankfully, social anxiety is a highly treatable condition. Many people with SAD enlist the help of a mental health professional and may even use medication as a part of their treatment program.

If you find that these outpatient treatments aren't enough, it may be time to call Brookhaven Retreat. Located in the peaceful foothills of Tennessee, we are a treatment center for women specializing in a variety of mental health conditions, including severe anxiety disorders. We are here to offer compassionate care to those who turn to us for help.

Taking a break from university life to focus on coping with your social anxiety disorder may be just the thing to break SAD's hold over your life. Contact us today to find out more.

Published in Brookhaven Blog
Friday, 14 December 2018 18:41

Signs of Anxiety in College Students

On college campuses across the nation, psychological health is a growing concern. Most universities provide mental health clinics where students can receive help if needed, but not everyone takes advantage of these opportunities. One of the most pressing mental health concerns among college students is anxiety. About 40 percent of students on campus struggle with some form of anxiety. Anxious feelings can be natural. After all, between finals, presentations in front of your class and concerns about the future, nervousness and stress are bound to crop up from time to time.

However, there reaches a point when anxiety becomes a real concern, as it can affect a student's ability to function and enjoy life. Thankfully, there are mental health resources that can help alleviate anxiety and allow students to cope. But first, students, friends and family need to look out for warning signs that anxiety has become too much and requires intervention.

6 Signs That a College Student Has Anxiety

Anxiety is more than just feelings of stress or anxiousness. It is a mental health disorder that can stem from genetics, biochemistry and even stressful life events. More than 40 million adults 18 years and older have an anxiety disorder, but that number may even be greater as some people don't recognize the signs that they struggle with anxiety.

What differentiates stress, which is common to almost everyone and perfectly normal, and an actual anxiety disorder? If you're a college student, here are six signs to look out for that could indicate you've crossed the line and may have an anxiety disorder:

  1. Excessive worry: This is often the hallmark of anxiety. Excessive means you worry too much about everyday things, both large and small. But how much is too much? A good rule of thumb is when you have persistent anxious thoughts most days out of the week for more than a few months.
  2. Difficulty sleeping: Whether it's trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, anxiety can cause chronic sleeplessness. You could find yourself agitated about school or nothing in particular, but many of those who have an anxiety disorder have difficulty sleeping.
  3. Physical symptoms: Although anxiety starts in the mind, it can manifest in physical symptoms felt throughout your body. The most common of these are digestive issues, muscle tension, rapid heart rate, dizziness, sweating, shaking and even difficulties breathing.
  4. Episodes of panic: A panic attack can be a terrifying event. These episodes cause you to feel intense fear and helplessness accompanied by physical side effects like dizziness, chest pain, numb or tingling hands and difficulty breathing. However, not everyone with anxiety has panic attacks.
  5. Compulsive behavior and obsessive thoughts: Even if you don't have obsessive-compulsive disorder, which is a type of anxiety disorder, many people with anxiety struggle with repeated, unwanted thoughts or actions. OCD can be hard to spot as there are a number of different ways that it can manifest.
  6. Avoidance of social situations: Anxiety can be provoked by feeling uncomfortable in everyday situations like meeting someone new, making small talk or even eating in front of a small group of people. These feelings lead some people with anxiety to avoid social situations.

Brookhaven Retreat Can Help Women With Anxiety

If you're a woman in college experiencing severe anxiety, this disorder can make it difficult to perform daily activities, causing your school performance to suffer. It's okay to admit you need help. That's why Brookhaven Retreat is here. We offer support to women struggling with mental health disorders like severe anxiety. We provide a safe environment where you can learn techniques to cope with these symptoms so you can continue to thrive at school.

If you feel that you may need help with severe anxiety, we invite you to contact us today to find out more about our mental health services. We are a residential women-only mental health retreat that offers individualized treatment plans for longlasting recovery.

Published in Brookhaven Blog

Each year, millions of Americans struggle with mental health issues. Among the vast spectrum of challenging health conditions, depression and anxiety are two common struggles that impact the day-to-day quality of life for young adults. Anxiety affects over 40 million people over the age of 18. Unfortunately, it is not unusual for someone who has an anxiety disorder to also face depression and vice versa. These commonly co-occurring disorders often influence one another and create more hurdles for those afflicted to overcome.

One quarter of teens show symptoms of depression

Adolescents are especially at risk for developing these disorders. Nearly one-quarter of teens will show symptoms of depression by the age of 18. This depression during teenage years can carry on to college years if not addressed.

Depressed college students are twice as likely to drop out of school as their peers. The fact is that many universities and collegiate facilities are recognizing that the effects of depression and anxiety have a negative impact on academic performance.

Can Depression and Anxiety Affect Academic Performance?

Depression and anxiety can impact any aspect of a person's life including their academic performance. The number of college students seeking help for their mental health afflictions hitting record highs. Students seeking out counselling centers have dramatically increased over the last decade and is exponentially higher than the rate of increases in enrollment. Students surveyed said that their depressive symptoms made it hard to function and reported feeling overwhelming anxiety. Many of these students are also more likely to harm themselves or attempt suicide.

Mental health disorders aren't simply changes in emotional states. The varying, ongoing symptoms of each unique disorder directly affect your mood, thinking and behavior. Factors like inherited traits, environmental exposures before birth and brain chemistry can contribute to these illnesses. Additional risk factors could increase the likelihood that these conditions may develop. These include having a family history of mental health issues, undergoing a stressful or traumatic experience, substance abuse, lacking social bonds or other chronic medical conditions, and can cause significant complications throughout all aspects of your life.

Transition from highschool

Although these conditions can appear at any age throughout a person's life, the fact is that young adults are vulnerable to developing mental health issues like depression and anxiety. The transition from high school to college forces many students to face challenges, pressures and conflicts that they may have never been confronted with at home. These new social, academic and financial struggles can trigger or reveal depression and anxiety in some young adults. Some can overcome these symptoms on their own. Others require professional intervention.

The symptoms of mental health disorders do more than merely distract a student from focusing on their studies. Psychological disorders can disrupt cognitive functioning and reduce intellectual performance. Cognitive dysfunction is believed to have a strong correlation with mental health diagnoses like depression and anxiety. These conditions can significantly alter cognitive functioning, particularly memory retention and the absorption of knowledge. With such a profound influence, it's no surprise that these disorders negatively impact the academic performance of college students. Depression and anxiety directly impact the ability to learn.

How Depression and Anxiety Affect Your Ability to Learn

Studies have shown that there is a link between depression, anxiety and lower academic performance. Mental health conditions can affect college students at any level. In assessing groups of students in varying years, first-year students reported increased instances of self-harm and suicide consideration while upperclassmen reported more significant impacts on their academic performance due to their mental health afflictions. Students, educators and mental health professionals agree that there is a concerning prevalence of mental health issues that impact the lives and academic performance of college-aged individuals.

Mental health issues impact learning

Though some may be quick to categorize depression and anxiety as emotional afflictions, it should not be ignored that these two conditions have a profound impact on cognitive functioning. Research shows that emotion and motivation create two psychological processes that have dramatic influence over cognition and behavior. More specifically, when emotion and cognition interact negatively, this can increase the likelihood of the manifestation of anxiety and depression-related symptoms. These conditions are also associated with deficits in executive function like memory retention, focus and adjusting behavior based on environment.

How Anxiety Impacts Academic Performance

Stress is a common feeling many people experience when faced with a range of situations. This biological response can be positive or negative and typically is experienced for a short period. In an academic context, the stress experienced when studying for a test may help an individual enhance their focus and achieve a higher test score. In contrast, negative stress can cause an individual to have an upset stomach before an exam because they are worried about their performance.

Anxiety may have similar symptoms, however, these symptoms are often enhanced and continue for long periods of time. While stress can motivate a person to overcome a challenge, anxiety is an intense and sometimes irrational feeling of worry that can become debilitating. Anxiety can cause an individual to become physically sick or severely distraught at the thought of taking a test, giving a presentation or other academic activities. Instead of triggering a biological response that can enhance academic performance, anxiety causes physical and mental symptoms that can dramatically inhibit cognitive functioning.

Anxiety's impact on learning activities

Physiological symptoms among students experiencing anxiety include:

  • Feeling cold or chills
  • Increased nervousness or panicking
  • Sweaty palms
  • Stomach pain or discomfort
  • Significantly increased heart rate
  • Quickened breathing

Psychological symptoms among students experiencing anxiety include:

  • An absence of interest in an area of academia which they perceive as difficult
  • Increased nervousness before engaging in formal academic classes
  • Experiencing significant panic
  • Going "blank" while taking examinations
  • Feeling hopeless or helpless when completing assignments

How Depression Impacts School Performance

There are many periods in life during which a person will feel sadness. For college-aged adolescents, sadness may be triggered by homesickness, academic failures, the death of a loved one or the dissolution of a romantic relationship. Those who experience sadness are typically able to still function normally in their daily lives. This sadness usually lasts for a short period and is accepted, reconciled and moved on from. 

Like anxiety, depression is a common mental health disorder that takes on many forms with varying severities. Unlike sadness, depression significantly alters parts of the brain. Though sadness can be felt during depression, some may not feel it at all. Instead, they may experience other symptoms that interfere with their daily lives on a long-term basis. This illness can present a range of physical and mental symptoms and is a prevalent condition among college-aged students.

Physiological symptoms among college students experiencing depression may include:

  • Abuse of drugs or alcohol
  • Restlessness and irritability
  • Drastic changes in appetite or weight
  • Physical pain like muscular discomfort or headaches
  • Difficulty sleeping, insomnia or oversleeping

Psychological symptoms among college students experiencing depression may include:

  • Loss of interest in hobbies, activities or social engagements
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
  • Engaging in self-harm or attempting suicide
  • Difficulty concentrating on homework assignments or in class
  • Difficulty retaining information read in textbooks or learned in class
  • Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism about academic future
  • Feelings of isolation or helplessness

The Impact of Depression and Anxiety Disorders on Cognition

Depression and anxiety alone or as co-occurring disorders can dramatically affect an individual's academic performance. These diseases can hinder the brain's ability to think, understand, learn and remember information. Studies show that stress, depression and anxiety experienced by college students of varying years have had a negative impact on their academic success.

Negative impact on college performance

Areas in which these mental health conditions can negatively affect cognition include:

  • Memory retention
  • Memory retrieval
  • Problem-solving abilities
  • Ability to learn

Impaired Memory Retention and Retrieval From Depression and Anxiety

Both anxiety and depression can lead to problems with memory. Research suggests that while those with depression might be able to retain memories, they may find it difficult to discern specific identifiable details. For instance, though they may be able to determine whether or not they had seen a set of objects before, they may be unable to distinguish one set of objects from another set that possesses similar identifying features. This may be because those with depression have a smaller hippocampus, the memory processor of the brain.

Though it is suggested that anxiety in certain contexts can help an individual remember a situation with greater detail, too much anxiety can have the opposite effect. High anxiety can cause an individual to lose focus on their surroundings and shut out all external observations. It can also influence the perception and memory of events in a negative way. For example, because an individual is in a negative state of mind they may internalize neutral stimuli with a negative bias.

Chronic stress and anxiety may also cause brain inflammation that results in short-term memory loss. In a study, mice exposed to long-term stress had inflamed hippocampus regions that created memory loss. These stresses parallel the traumatic anxieties that some individuals feel. If a college student is constantly in a state of high anxiety or panic, it may cause them to compromise their short-term memory even after brain inflammation has subsided. This could cause weeks' worth of behavior and memory problems for those facing pressures of collegiate academia.

Short-term memory loss

Anxiety and Depression's Influence on Problem-Solving and Learning Abilities

Both problem-solving skills and the general absorption of knowledge are affected by anxiety through the ineffectiveness of working memory. The working memory is the brain's short-term memory system that enables an individual to retain information while actively solving a problem. When debilitating amounts of anxiety force this system to operate inefficiently, working memory capacity suffers. Without a reliable working memory, an individual will find it difficult to successfully accomplish a task. This anxiety could cause an individual to be unable to use complex problem-solving skills in school and life.

Though many people have learning disabilities, there are a substantial number of people who have legitimate mathematic anxieties. By actively avoiding the emotional strife that occurs when trying to accomplish mathematical tasks, an individual can overload and disrupt their working memory. Mathematics anxiety is considered separate from test or generalized anxiety, though it may have some correlation. This anxiety interferes with the ability to solve mathematical problems in academia and real-life applications.

Depression can cause individuals to experience increased risks of academic underachievement. Studies have shown that depression in adolescents can lead to cognitive impairment and social dysfunction which directly impacts academic performance. Symptoms like fatigue, hopelessness, stress and physical pains can make it difficult for an individual to function in an academic environment, decreasing their ability to successfully learn. Depression and anxiety have caused many college students to drop out, withdraw or shift to a part-time schedule which negatively extends their academic careers.

Signs That Depression and Anxiety May Be Impacting Your School Performance

Those faced with depression and anxiety in their late adolescence may not realize that their symptoms are having a negative impact on their academic performance. During times of difficulty throughout our lives, we may feel overwhelmed with stress or burdened with sadness. The transition from early adolescence to adulthood is a significant milestone that can affect mental health, especially for those adjusting to life in college. Some individuals may not realize that negative changes in their mental health during this transition are actually symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Life changes can affect mental health

Many mental health disorders do not necessarily display overt physical signs or symptoms of affliction. Depression and anxiety, separately or together, may cause you to feel a variety of physical, emotional and mental symptoms. You may experience negative feelings or behave in new ways. Your symptoms of one mental health issue could actually be related to another and one individual may display symptoms that are different than another's.

Here are some questions to ask yourself if you are unsure if depression and anxiety are impacting your academic performance:

  • • Are your grades dropping significantly because you are unable to focus on your schoolwork?
  • Are you feeling sad, empty or hopeless regularly?
  • Do you get very angry, frustrated or irritated for any reason, even small instances that shouldn't normally cause this turmoil?
  • Have you lost interest or enjoyment in the hobbies or activities that used to make you happy?
  • Are you sleeping too much, unable to fall asleep or experiencing nightmares or discomfort that constantly wakes you up?
  • Do you often feel exhausted or have a constant lack of energy that makes it difficult to complete even small daily tasks?
  • Has your appetite changed so drastically that you are either not hungry and losing weight or constantly hungry and gaining weight?
  • Do you feel overstressed, restless or agitated on a regular basis?
  • Do you find yourself acting, speaking or thinking slower than normal?
  • Are you experiencing headaches, backaches or other physical pain that you can't explain?
  • Do you sometimes feel that you're worthless, do you fixate on past failures or feel guilty about events that aren't your fault?
  • Do you have thoughts of death and suicide or have you considered or attempted suicide?

If you answered yes to all, some or even one of these questions, you may be unknowingly suffering from depression and anxiety. Even if you don't believe that your studies are the root of your issues, any mental affliction could cause you to underperform at school. Remember, depression and anxiety impact cognitive functioning which can create difficulty in all aspects of your life including memory retention, memory retrieval, problem-solving abilities and the ability to absorb information and learn.

Seeking Treatment for Depression and Anxiety Can Improve Performance

Depression and anxiety are serious mental health issues that present individuals with a number of physical, emotional and cognitive challenges which are often difficult to overcome. Thankfully, there are many forms of treatment available that cater to the many variations of depression and anxiety, both separately and together. Many of these psychotherapies involve talk-based therapy sessions in which an individual and their counselor discuss the struggles, feelings and thoughts that manifest during episodes of depression and panic. Therapy options for college students with depression and anxiety can range from one-on-one sessions to group therapy sessions.

Getting help for anxiety and depression

Cognitive behavioral therapy is regarded as one of the most effective treatment option for those suffering from generalized anxiety disorders. CBT seeks to help individuals become their own therapists by developing coping skills and learning to change their negative patterns of thought, emotion and behavior. Instead of focusing on past events, CBT addresses the current issues an individual is facing and focuses on helping them move forward via healthy coping strategies. The individual will ideally help themselves through their anxiety by applying these learned behaviors during stressful situations.

Medications may also be used in conjunction with therapies depending on the treatment plan outlined for each particular individual. A mental health professional can help to determine the best course of treatment based on the individual's needs.

These treatments may help them manage stress and cope with depression in healthy ways, regain their focus, compartmentalize their problems, increase their self-confidence when faced with adversity and improve their academic performance.

Overcoming Anxiety and Depression at Brookhaven Retreat for Women

Depression and anxiety are powerful mental afflictions that can negatively impact, disrupt and damage many facets of your life. Though stress and sadness are natural parts of life, anxiety and depression are medical illnesses that can severely harm your physical, mental and emotional health. Unfortunately, choosing to cope with these problems by self-medicating with alcohol, substance abuse, co-dependent relationships, isolation, anger or binge-eating is not an effective solution, but one that many college students turn to. To emotionally heal and move forward successfully, many people require compassionate support and professional treatment.

Brookhaven Retreat is a safe and caring facility where women can find serenity and support. As one of the most innovative mental health retreats for women in the country, we offer 90-day treatment programs that address issues with mental health, substance abuse and emotional strife. We provide comprehensive recovery for those who need assistance regaining control of their lives and rediscovering who they truly are.

If you're experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety as you continue your transition into college, know that you're not alone. The experts at Brookhaven Retreat are here to help you progress from adolescence to adulthood in healthy, positive ways that do not impede your academic performance. Call us today and let us help you resolve these issues so that you can progress forward into a life of happiness and success.

Contact Brookhaven Retreat for Help

Published in Brookhaven Blog
Wednesday, 27 June 2018 10:08

Summer Anxiety in College Students

Whether you are a freshman or a senior, a full load of classes and busy campus life can take their toll on anyone. That is why those carefree months of summer come at the perfect time. Some look forward to pure relaxation, while others have a productive summer of work, travel or other goals to fill their time.

But what no one expects is summer anxiety. Aren't those anxious feelings supposed to melt away once classes let out? Don't let the summer blues rob you of one day from your summer vacation.

Why Anxiety Hits College Students Over the Summer Months

Anxiety is a common occurrence among college students. All the pressure of meeting deadlines and getting good grades is enough to put anyone on edge. Even during the summer, though, feelings of anxiety or depression are common for college students. They are often referred to as the Summer Blues, and there are many reasons they hit so hard during these months of freedom:

  • Impossibly Long List of Summer To-Do's: From traveling to completing some lofty goals, it is easy to try and cram too much into your summer schedule.
  • Feeling Unmotivated: If you do have a long summer to-do list, then chances are you will not feel like doing it, and that can cause negative emotions to well up.
  • Busy Summer Job: Maybe you were hoping for a relaxing summer, but a job or internship is taking all your free time and making you feel rundown.
  • Change in Routine: After the end of a busy semester, it may take some time for your body to adjust to a slower pace, causing a little bit of stress.
  • Expectations Back at Home: Once you experience the adult freedom of college life, it may be hard to adjust to things back at home, such as schedules or expectations.
  • The Anticipation of Going Back to School: It is totally natural not to want to go back to school. We all relish our downtime, and you may feel stressed about the thought of returning to a busy class load.
  • Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder:  Reverse seasonal affective disorder (Reverse SAD), is a more uncommon disorder that individuals can develop during the warm summer months which can cause insomnia, manic behavior and decreased appetite.

Fighting the Summer Blues

Summer is a time for relaxation and recuperation after a busy fall and spring semester. But the anxiety associated with the summer blues can rob you of what little downtime you have. If you are looking to beat those blues, here are some tips that college students have used to fight summer anxiety:

  • Get Outside: Take a hike. Go to the beach. Have a morning jog. Visit a farmer's market. These are just a few examples of outdoor activities you can take advantage of this summer. Studies show that spending time outside or in nature increase feelings of serenity and happiness.
  • Family Time: You will be headed back to school before you know it, so why not take advantage of the little time you have with your nearest and dearest. Declare a family game night or have dinner at the dining table together at least once a week. These are precious moments you will not forget.
  • Pick One Thing to Do: Instead of filling your summer with an endless to-do list, try focusing on one thing. It could be a new hobby, like knitting or surfing, or traveling to a national landmark. Focusing on one item will free you up to enjoy that one thing to the fullest.
  • Relax and Breathe: You are allowed to relax. Don't let summer guilt set in and tell you that you are being lazy. The key to a good summer is enjoying those chances to unwind. Even if you're busy working, find times to relax and just breathe.

If your summer blues are rooted in a deeper issue, we are here for you. Brookhaven Retreat offers a refuge for women of all ages struggling with anxiety or depression. Reach out to us to learn more.

Published in Brookhaven Blog
Tuesday, 12 December 2017 05:00

Drug Abuse in College Students

College can be a wonderful experience for students, both academically and socially. It is an opportunity for young people to explore new ideas and information in pursuit of a rewarding career. They can interact with people from different areas and backgrounds as they explore a greater portion of the world around them.

College is also the first time many students are away from home and managing their own daily environment. The transition to making all of their own decisions can be bumpy for some students. Drugs and alcohol are often part of the newness of the college experience and can represent an opportunity to make some unfortunate decisions.

Drug Abuse Statistics in College Students

It may be difficult for parents to know what is happening on their child’s college campus. College students are usually away from home and may take the opportunity to be more independent.

These statistics provide some insight to the reality of drug abuse on college campuses:

  • The rate of alcohol and drug abuse on college campuses has remained fairly consistent since the 1970s.
  • Binge drinking and intoxication are more prevalent among college students than their non-college peers. More than 40% of college students surveyed admitted to being intoxicated in the past month, compared to just over 30% of non-college student young adults.
  • Ritalin and Adderall, two amphetamines, are abused at a rate of 2.4% and 9.9% respectively on college campuses.
  • Marijuana use has increased among college students from 2.4% in 1996 to 4.9% in 2016.
  • Cocaine use among college students dropped from 2007 to 2013, but it spiked after that. In 2015, approximately 4.3% of college students admitted to using cocaine.
  • Approximately one-quarter of college students use hookah, a means of vaporizing tobacco. College students smoke cigarettes at a rate of 11.3% and e-cigarettes 8.8%. This adds up to almost half of college students using nicotine.

Drug abuse among college students is generally higher than it is among their non-college peers. College represents an opportunity to experience new things, and unfortunately, drugs and alcohol are among the new experiences for many college students.

Why Are These Numbers Increasing?

One of the leading causes of the increase in drug and alcohol use in college students is availability. This is the same reason that marijuana use is so prevalent among teenagers. It is inexpensive and easy to find in most communities. It is also sometimes laced with dangerous additives.

Additionally, the overall increase in the abuse of prescription drugs leads to an increased demand for cocaine and heroin. Both of these illicit drugs are now readily available in most communities as well, especially around college campuses, and they are often cheaper than prescription drugs.

Another cause of increased drug use in college students is the perception that it is okay. Many college students believe that drugs such as marijuana, or even prescription and over-the-counter medicines, are not dangerous. A lot of people believe that if you can buy a drug legally without a prescription, it is safe.

The reality is that addiction can happen to anyone with any substance. Alcohol, for example, is a legally obtained substance that can cause addiction and even brain damage. Self-medicating or recreational use of any substance can be a dangerous practice.

Signs of Drug Abuse in College Students

It may be more difficult to recognize the signs of drug abuse in your child now that she is away at college. Look for these signs, though, and try to pick up on a problem before it becomes too serious:

  • Severe change in academic performance
  • Ignoring old friends for a new group of friends
  • Secretive and anti-social behavior
  • Unusual irritability or depression
  • Lack of interest in classes or extracurricular activities that were once important

As a parent, you know your child better than anyone. Keep the lines of communication open while she is away at college and listen for changes that might indicate trouble.

Drug Addiction Treatment for College Students

College students are especially vulnerable to addiction because they are facing the world on their own for the first time, and their brains are not fully developed. The period of adolescent brain development continues to about age 25 in most people. Even if your child seems mature for her age, her brain is still impressionable and has not fully matured past the thrill-seeking, risk-taking decision-making habits of the teenage years.

If you think your college student is struggling with addiction or drug abuse, it is a good idea to get help for her right away. Taking some time out and away from the college scene might be the best avenue if out-patient treatment and therapy are not enough. Drug abuse turns to addiction quickly, and addiction does not heal itself. Consult the compassionate professionals at Brookhaven Retreat for the next steps if think your daughter might be abusing drugs at college.

Published in Brookhaven Blog