Recent Statistics on Drug Abuse Among College Students

When it comes to drug abuse among college students, the old saw “The more things change the more they stay the same” comes to mind.  While the popularity for the various recreational substances shifts over time, the propensity for this age group to use and abuse drugs and alcohol remains constant.

College students often use substances to help manage the demanding rigors of higher education.  They may use marijuana and alcohol to help them relax and Adderall to help increase concentration and productivity.  Additionally, the college party scene can introduce students to dangers and highly addictive illicit drugs such as cocaine, opioids, and opiates.

Alcohol Remains a Fixture at College Campuses

Alcohol has never lost its appeal among college kids.  Drinking games that can lead to dangerous binge drinking practices are a staple at most college parties, both on and off campus.  In fact, according to statistics published by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, heavy alcohol use is actually higher among college students versus their non-college peers.  

Data collected in the 2015 Monitoring the Future survey show that while 24.9% of young adults who do not attend college have been intoxicated in the last month, 38.4% of college students report being drunk in the last month.  Similar results demonstrate that 31.9% of the college students surveyed reported participating in binge drinking in the past two weeks, versus only 23.7% of non-college attending young adults.

Marijuana Use Continues to Escalate

When it comes to drug abuse among college students, marijuana reigns as the drug of choice.  In fact, daily marijuana use among college students in the U.S. is now at the highest level since 1980.  The increase may be attributed to the growing belief in recent years that regular marijuana use is not harmful or dangerous.  In 2006, 55% college-aged respondents in the Monitoring the Future survey considered marijuana use as dangerous, where in the same survey in 2014 only 35% considered it dangerous.  In fact, the 2014 Monitoring the Future survey reported that daily marijuana use surpassed daily cigarette smoking for the first time.

The upward trend for smoking marijuana in college appears to follow the level of use of marijuana among high school seniors.  According to Lloyd Johnston, the principal investigator of the study, “It’s clear that for the past seven or eight years there has been an increase in marijuana use among the nation’s college students, and this largely parallels an increase we have been seeing among high school seniors.” 

Prescription “Study Drugs” Abused at College Campuses

Not all drug abuse among college students involves illicit substances.  Amphetamines in the ADHD category, such as Adderall, Ritalin, and Vyvanse, have become de rigueur at college campuses right alongside energy drinks and Starbucks confections.  While these drugs may be legitimately prescribed for people struggling with the symptoms of ADHD, many healthy college students abuse the prescription stimulants to enhance their ability to study for long hours and produce prolific quantities of schoolwork.  

College students may be deluding themselves with the mistaken belief that drugs like Adderall (aka “Addy”) are harmless.  On the contrary, the short-term effects include elevated blood pressure, disrupted heart rhythm, weight loss, irritability, insomnia, and headaches.  The long-term effects mimic those of regular cocaine use, including paranoia, depression, anxiety, cardiovascular problems, and stroke.

Launch Centers Provides Help for College Students

As a response to the high rate of drug abuse among college students, Launch Centers has created a unique program to help redirect these young adults.  Offering a comprehensive approach that tailors the program for each individual college student, Launch Centers provides the help they need to create a blueprint for their future.  Assisting the students in setting life-goals and objectives, our counseling team provides the structure and support needed while simultaneously encouraging autonomy and accountability.  For more information about our program, please call us today at (310) 779-4476.

What is an Educational Consultant

A good education is incredibly important for a number of reasons, and there are many factors that can get in the way of a student receiving the best education according to his or her needs. Employing an Educational Consultant is one way to combat these challenges and ensure that students have access to the resources, extra support, and guidance they need for academic and long term success according to their unique needs and interests.

Educational Consultants are professionals that help parents, students, and different organizations with educational planning. Some Educational Consultants focus primarily on college admission counseling, while other assist clients with elementary, middle, and high school educational planning. This can be useful for students that have special needs, specific goals, or would like to create a unique plan to optimize their education according to their scholarly strengths, weaknesses, and interests. With accurate information about the programs and costs at different schools all around the country, ECs have firsthand knowledge of countless educational opportunities and can offer students and their families the guidance they need to move forward towards their short-term and long-term educational goals.

Many Educational Consultants practice privately, while others work for different organizations that can match their clients to specific consultants according to their needs. Many ECs begin their consultation with an evaluation of the student to help identify strengths and weaknesses, and may refer the student to another professional for more specific kinds of testing if they feel that is necessary. After acquiring a well-rounded understanding of the student’s abilities and needs, the EC will be able to give recommendations and advice to the students and their families that will guide them towards the right opportunities for educational and long-term success.

Educational Consultants can help families and individuals with special needs by pairing them with schools that offer special programs. ECs can also work with a team of psychologists and other professionals to get a better understanding of the student’s needs if they feel it is necessary. ECs spend time visiting and evaluating different locations to learn about their programs and strengths, and can then pair individuals with the facilities that offer the services that would be the best fit for the individual. The same applies to those considering day schools, boarding schools, colleges, and international study programs. The Educational Consultant can essentially act as a matchmaker that finds the kind of educational program or school the client is looking for, and further narrow down the options by identifying which of those programs offer services that fit the client’s interests and strengths.

Ultimately, an Educational Consultant is designed to get to know a student and his or her family to acquire a solid understanding of their needs and educational goals; recommend additional testing if they feel it is necessary; acquire and use their extensive knowledge of different schools and programs to match their clients with the best facility; encourage a student to take ownership of his or her strengths, weaknesses, and interests; and find different ways to support those strengths, weaknesses, and interests by recommending specific schools and programs that address their needs and can offer a supportive, appropriate learning environment accordingly. An Educational Consultant can be an incredibly valuable tool to help a student achieve maximum success throughout his or her education.

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Intervention: How to Help Your Loved Ones

Many individuals engage in self-destructive behaviors. These can include addictions, gambling, eating disorders and other problems. Often, the person is not aware of how serious the situation is, since the mental health problem that they have is clouding their judgment. For example, a person with anorexia is quite literally unable to see just how thin they are – they see themselves as fat despite all evidence to the contrary. People with addictions, be it to substances or to certain behaviors, also fool themselves into thinking that they can quit at any time, that they have full control or that they are just having fun. These types of issues severely affect the person’s ability to think critically in relation to the problematic situation.

The loved ones of the person who is engaging in this behavior often feel powerless to stop them. An addiction or an eating disorder doesn’t only hurt the person who is engaging in these behaviors, but also the people around them. Sometimes, an honest face-to-face conversation can help the person realize there is a problem, but often a more serious tactic is needed. These are the cases in which an intervention can be used.

What is an intervention?

It is a planned meeting where several people who care about the individual involved in self-destructive behaviors confront him or her about it, speak up about their concerns, propose a solution and discuss alternatives. An intervention is a process that needs to be addressed carefully.

An intervention team usually involves friends and family, although it can also include a clergy member, a teacher or a colleague, depending on the situation. These are people who care about the person and who want to help, although people who are very confrontational or very angry at the person may be left out of the team for the moment. The idea is to address the person calmly and rationally, expressing one’s emotions without attacking.

It’s a good idea to work with a professional interventionist to develop the most effective intervention. They can help each person figure out what to say and propose treatment options, as well as suggest what can be done if the person rejects the intervention. If there is a risk of violence or self-harm, it’s especially important that a mental health professional is involved in the intervention process.

The first stage involved planning. The team is formed, and each person needs to decide and write down what they will say and rehearse it, consulting with each other and with the intervention professional. The intervention team will need to gather or prepare information about the person’s behaviors to have clear examples of why they are self-destructive. The planning process needs to be thorough and not done in the spur of the moment. The team needs to be well-prepared. It’s also important to keep the intervention a secret from the person it’s directed at, since they can seek ways to sabotage it or prepare to ignore it or confront it.

The actual intervention meeting needs to be prepared at a comfortable time and place. The person should be invited there without being warned beforehand.

During the intervention, it’s important that the team follows the plan they have, up to what they say and how they sit, to avoid confusion. Each person will need to express their concerns, show examples of the self-destructive or harmful behaviors, talk about their feelings in a non-aggressive manner and address the issue directly. The team should propose a treatment plan, including hospitalization in some cases, anonymous help groups or other options, depending on the situation. It’s also important that the team presents an alternative, stating clearly the consequences that will happen if the person does not accept the treatment. These consequences can be asking the person to move out or cutting financial support. It’s important to state that all the members of the team will support the person if they choose the treatment, but stay firm in relation to the consequences.

Attacks, insults and similar tactics should be avoided. The process needs to be done in a calm manner without losing track of the plan. However, honesty needs to be present – the team members need to state what they are feeling and how it is affecting them. A good idea is to use “I-statements” (“I feel that…”) and focus on the consequences of the behaviors rather than blaming the person directly. Any objections the person has should also be addressed calmly. In general, it’s a good idea to brainstorm possible objections and come up with rational and calm responses.

It’s important to ask the person to make a decision right away. They can try to stall in order to deny the situation, for example, or otherwise try to avoid making a decision.

An intervention can be helpful, but in the end the decision to acknowledge the problem and to change is up to the person. If they choose to deny the situation, react violently or refuse treatment, that is their choice.

If there is violence or danger, if the person accuses the intervention team of betrayal or reacts in a similar way, it might be necessary to leave the situation, something that is especially true for the spouse and children. If the person refuses treatment, it is important to go through with the consequences. This has the chance of being good for the person, since it can make it very hard for them to deny the situation any longer. Not going through with the consequences encourages the self-destructive behaviors, since it comes off as an empty threat and shows the person that the situation can continue on as before.

An intervention gives the individual a plan for action and shows the support of their loved ones, but in the end it is up to them whether they decide to take it or not. However, removing oneself from the situation or enforcing the consequences can help the person realize that they do have a problem.

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The Dangers of Helicopter Parenting

There’s an old Chinese proverb which states, “a watched flower never blooms.” While the ancient Chinese have been given credit for inventing gunpowder, the compass, and a myriad of other inventions, it appears that they may have also been the first to realize the dangers of helicopter parenting. A popular term in today’s society, a helicopter parent is someone who constantly hovers over their child. From an early age, helicopter parents don’t merely smother their children, they try to control every aspect of their lives. Popular examples of this type of parenting are when parents call their children’s professors at college to complain about grades or continue to do everyday tasks for them such as the laundry or grocery shopping, even as adults.

Loving your children is a natural process for most people, so it’s easy to fall into this pattern of behavior. But there can also be unforeseen consequences when children are not allowed to grow into independent individuals. Many adults who were raised this way have no sense of self-reliance and haven’t figured out how to live in adult society.

This problem may be most severe, however, when we look at the parents of young addicts who have had years of substance abuse issues. Seeing a child in pain is the most difficult thing a parent can deal with, but continually trying to shield them from pain can also make them unequipped for the real world. And while addiction may be a disease of physical pain, recovery is often a process of emotional discomfort. Parents who are so used to doing everything for their children may unwittingly be damaging their child’s ability to find their own path of recovery. No matter how hard we try, we can never live our children’s lives for them or constantly protect them. Sometimes the best thing to do is let your child fall, so they can learn to pick themselves back up.