StaffEd: Services available for addicted students

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Going to college is tough. Ask any student, and they’ll tell you about late-night cram sessions, early morning rushes to get to class on time, endless hours of homework and unbelievable amounts of stress. Many students have family and work obligations on top of their schoolwork. Some students struggle with physical disabilities, mental health problems or other personal issues that affect their academic careers. The list of personal issues a student might struggle with is virtually endless. Add up all the roles a student has to play, all the obligations they have to juggle, and it’s enough to drive a person to abuse alcohol or drugs.

We’ve all had times when life’s demands felt too difficult. We’ve all had times when we wanted to forget about all those things making us anxious and just have some fun, just feel better for a while. Some of us even know what it’s like to want to feel numb, to disconnect from the daily grind. Most students find healthy ways to deal with stress, but some turn to drug or alcohol addiction.
One way students deal with late nights and early mornings is to consume caffeine, sometimes in large quantities. Caffeine addiction may sound pretty mild. After all, who doesn’t enjoy a Diet Coke or a Mountain Dew?

However, according to http://www.medicnenet.com, caffeine addiction is an actual addiction defined in the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). The website defines heavy caffeine consumption as consuming more than 6,000 mg of caffeine per day. It lists an average cup of coffee at 135 mg, a 12 oz. Coca-Cola Classic at 35 mg and a 16 oz. Monster Energy drink at 160 mg of caffeine. According to http://www.medicnenet.com, caffeine abuse can cause restlessness, nervousness, excitement, insomnia and gastrointestinal complaints, and massive doses can even cause death.

If caffeine isn’t enough to take the edge off everyday worries, some students abuse alcohol. According to http://www.helpguide.org, signs of alcoholism include feeling guilty or ashamed about your drinking, lying to others to hide your drinking habits, needing to drink to feel relaxed or better, “blacking out” while drinking, regularly drinking more than you intended to and having friends and family members who are worried about your drinking.

Other students seek solace in drug abuse. The Mayo Clinic’s website, http://www.mayoclinic.com, lists symptoms of drug abuse which include feeling that you have to use drugs regularly, failing in your attempts to stop using drugs, making certain that you maintain a supply of drugs, spending money on drugs even when you can’t afford them, doing things to obtain drugs that you wouldn’t normally do, feeling that you need to do drugs to deal with your problems and focusing more and more time and energy on getting and using drugs.

For students who are or fear they might be addicted to drugs or alcohol and for friends and family members of addicts, there is information and help available both on and off campus. If you show signs of substance addiction or know someone who does, please consider finding help for yourself or your friend.

For on-campus help, contact the college’s Counseling and Advising Services by calling 913-469-3809 to make an appointment with a counselor who can refer you to the Student Assistance Program. To get help off campus, call the local chapter of the National Council on Alcohol and Drug Prevention and Recovery, FirstCall, at 846-361-5900 or 913-233-0747 or go to http://www.firstcallkc.com/.

The Kansas City Area Central Office of Alcoholics Anonymous can be found online at http:www.kc-aa.org/, and the Kansas City Metro Area Service Committee of Narcotic Anonymous can be found at http://www.kansascityna.org/.

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