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> Student Center > College Tips

College Tips

Pass it On: Tips for College Students

When does use become abuse, and when does abuse become addiction? Take a closer look at your own drinking habits to decide if you're crossing the very thin line between social drinking and alcoholism. 

"It's not like I get wasted every weekend, but if I drink, I pretty much drink to get drunk."
You might think drinking, smoking, and other drug use are rites of passage for college students. But there can be some pretty serious negative consequences to consider even for occasional users. If you’re concerned about your use or a friend’s use -- wondering how much is too much, read on.

"I could stop drinking tomorrow if I thought I had a problem. But I don't. I'm just about having a good time."
Alcohol and other drugs affect people in different ways. The thing to keep in mind is whether drinking or drugs might be playing too big a part in your life. If you’ve missed class or work because of your use, or you’ve blacked out or had legal problems because of use, or you’re using more lately to feel the effects, or your parents or grandparents have had issues with alcohol or drug abuse, you might want to get a handle on your situation by contacting your school’s counseling center. Not ready for that? Try keeping track of your use for a month, or check out an online assessment.

"Pre-gaming takes the edge off before going out. And it saves money. What's not to like?"
Pre-gaming and power hours can get you in trouble, fast. So can drinking games and any other situation where it’s easy to drink faster than your body feels the effects. Binge drinking - downing five or more alcoholic drinks in a row for men, or four drinks for women - puts you at greater risk for everything from assaults and injuries to death from alcohol poisoning. If you choose to pre-game anyway, switch out every other alcoholic drink with soda or juice, and aim for hour-long breaks between alcoholic drinks.

"Seriously. Study drugs are the only thing that got me through Organic Chem last semester."
Prescription meds are being used more and more by students to help stay awake and focused while cramming for tests. But using these drugs without a medical diagnosis or a prescription can be dangerous. For one thing, these types of stimulants can speed up your blood pressure, heart rate, and cause racing thoughts and hallucinations. And for another, these meds can be highly addictive. What might start out as a study aid can easily become a dangerous crutch.

"She was passed out - so drunk she didn't know who I was. I wanted to get her help. But then I'd be busted for drinking. I'm only 19."
Alcohol and other drug use can have serious - potentially fatal - consequences. Signs of alcohol overdose include unconsciousness, irregular breathing, blue-tinged skin, or seizures. What if medical attention is needed for a friend and it’s up to you to get help? Yes, there could be personal repercussions to consider, like having the police called or parents notified or your school informed. Some schools have "Good Samaritan" rules that provide amnesty to students who seek help in a medical emergency. But even if your school doesn’t have that rule, your friend’s life could be in the balance. What’s most important?

"My roommate was convinced he was having a heart attack. Turns out it was a panic attack - from pot. He was freaked; he's done using."
Next to alcohol, marijuana has been the most used and abused drug by college students for generations. There’s an overall perception that it’s pretty harmless. But anyone who’s had an all-out, marijuana-induced panic attack might beg to differ.  Anxiety and panic reactions are among the most common negative side effects of marijuana use. Much like alcohol, marijuana affects people in different ways. For some, marijuana has the effect of calming the nerves. For others, the opposite reaction occurs. Oh, and another thing, it’s illegal.

"I wouldn't know where to turn - or who to trust - for straight answers to the questions I have about drinking and drugs."
Most colleges and universities have counseling centers and health services where you will find confidential, expert help and answers. They can also recommend other trustworthy resources and services. 


Reliable sources for information about alcohol and other drug use and abuse include:

Hazelden’s Center for Youth and Families has helped thousands of young people find freedom from alcohol and other drugs and regain hope for more fulfilling lives. Call 800-257-7810  now for more information about how we can help you or a loved one.

Call Hazelden toll-free at 800-257-7810 or go online at hazelden.org for more information

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