Everyone on the Addiction Helper team is either a student or a graduate. That means we know what it’s like to be in your shoes as you work your way through school. Our combination of real-world experience and professional training makes it possible for us to provide you with reliable information about drugs, alcohol, and addiction.
We strongly urge you to get in touch with us if you have any questions about how drugs or alcohol might be affecting you or a friend. To get you started thinking in that direction, we have put together this student guide to alcohol and drugs. Should you feel the need, please call our free and confidential helpline at any time. You will find the number at the top of this page.
Now You Have Freedom
Going to university is as much about experiencing your first taste of freedom as it is about preparing for your career. For many young adults, going to university is the first opportunity they have to live away from their parents. It can all be very exciting. Yet this new freedom also means being suddenly faced with a lot of unfamiliar choices, some involving the temptation to use alcohol and drugs.
If you haven’t already been faced with such choices, you will be at some point in your university career. We want you to be prepared so that you make good choices. We hope you will take the time to educate yourself about drug and alcohol abuse, including facing the reality of how harmful substance abuse can be.
The University Drug Culture
Since the 1960s, the universities and colleges that have trained multiple generations of students have also embraced a culture of drug and alcohol abuse. Students tend to be attracted to this culture inasmuch as they have free time they need to fill with something other than studying.
For example, it is natural for a student to want to relax and chill out for a while. One might go for a few beers with friends as a normal social exercise for this very purpose. But students can unwittingly start down the road of addiction if they don’t control their drinking or they begin dabbling in drugs. Once started, it is often difficult to stop.
University is supposed to be a special place to enjoy a special time in your life. Do not throw it away by embracing the drug and alcohol culture. Your life and future are worth far more than that.
Classes of Drugs Commonly Abused at University
An important part of avoiding the alcohol and drug culture is understanding what kind of substances people are using. To that end, there are different classes of drugs commonly found on university campuses. The most often abused are listed below.
Stimulants are drugs that affect the central nervous system to increase alertness and energy levels. In many cases, stimulants also produce feelings of euphoria as well. The most prevalent stimulant drug is caffeine, a drug most of us take for granted. More dangerous stimulants include cocaine, ecstasy, amphetamines, and methamphetamine.
Students tend to gravitate toward stimulants out of a desire to want to party all night long. They want to maximise their time away from studies, and stimulants make that possible. Along those same lines, other students may use stimulants to help them stay awake for long periods so they can finish assignments or prepare for an exam. What students often do not understand is that stimulants are highly addictive.
Depressants have the opposite effect of stimulants. In other words, they tend to slow everything down. These drugs can reduce energy levels and alertness; they can produce mellow feelings and encourage relaxation. If you use alcohol, you already use one of the most commonly abused depressants in the world. Alcohol and other similar drugs are dangerous in that they can trigger depression and anxiety, in addition to damaging vital body tissues like the liver and kidneys.
Hallucinogenic drugs take their name from the fact that they have the ability to induce hallucinations. LSD is probably the most well-known in this class. Hallucinogens are experimental drugs at universities, presumably due to the mindset that university is a place to explore new ideas.
The good news about hallucinogens is that they do not tend to be physically addictive. However, they are psychologically addictive and physically dangerous. They can induce terrifying hallucinations that can lead to violent or risky behaviour. Many of them produce harmful side effects such as increased heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature.
Other kinds of drugs you need to be aware of include cannabinoids, benzodiazepines, and legal highs. Each of these classes involves different drugs with varying levels of addictiveness and the potential to harm human health. Make yourself familiar with the possible dangers before you are tempted to use them.
No Drug Is Safe
The last thing we want you to know before closing this guide is a very simple truth: no drug is safe. You will undoubtedly hear people tell you that there are certain substances you can take that are completely harmless, drugs that can be used indiscriminately and with no serious risk. Do not believe them.
Every substance you put into your body affects you in some way. Is that not why we now look down on smoking? Of course it is. If smoking cigarettes is bad for your health, does it not stand to reason that smoking marijuana is equally bad? Absolutely.
In addition to your physical health, you also need to consider your mental health. Any drug that has psychoactive effects is capable of creating psychological dependence. And whether you know it or not, psychological dependence is harder to break than physical dependence.
Your time at university should be a time marked by learning new things and gaining new experiences. You don’t need the experiences related to the drug and alcohol culture. If you already have a problem that you are trying to deal with, contact us at any time for free, confidential help.