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The Problem of College Opioid Abuse
America is in the grip of public health emergency—an Opioid epidemic. Tragically, college Opioid abuse is an increasing part of this epidemic. Most Opioids are prescription pain killers; however, they are commonly abused for their ability to release endorphins in the human brain, causing feelings of euphoria. Unfortunately, Opioids are some of the most highly addictive substances known to man, and Opioid addiction is one of the hardest of all substance use disorders to recover from.
College Opioid abuse is especially concerning and dangerous. Young adults between 18 and 25 are the most vulnerable to Opioid abuse. Many college-aged young adults began experimenting with Opioids in their teens. Their substance abuse then remained consistent or worsened as they progressed into college. In 2015, 772 young people died from abusing Opioids. On some college campuses, 1 in 4 students are abusing Opioids for non-medical reasons.
Exposure to drugs by living on campus or attending college events like music festivals and parties puts students at risk of illicit drug experimentation. Once they develop a tolerance or a dependency on a substance, an addiction is more likely to occur in later years.
Commonly abused Opioids among college students include:
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College Fentanyl Use
Many college students are exposed to Fentanyl, a highly addictive Opioid 50 to 100 times more potent than Morphine, without their knowledge. Many dealers cut Cocaine and Heroin with Fentanyl to reduce their costs and increase the potency of their product, but don’t let their customers know. This often leads to overdose when users consume significantly more potent drugs than they were intending to take. Overdose can sometimes be stopped with medications such as Narcan, but it is often fatal.
Origins of College Opioid Abuse
College students who suffer serious injuries or illnesses often get prescription Opioids from their doctor. Opioids used as prescribed effectively relieve the body of pain; however, an addiction can develop even if Opioids are used according to medical instruction. Students often find that they need to take increasing doses of the medication to achieve the same pain relief, and eventually begin running out of their pills before their intended end date.
Once students can no longer legally acquire Opioids from their doctor, they often turn to cheaper and more powerful alternatives like Heroin. Students often acquire these drugs from friends or drug dealers, in many cases putting themselves at great legal and personal risk to do so.
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Signs of College Opioid Abuse
Recognizing the symptoms of college Opioid abuse can be challenging, especially since many symptoms overlap with other substance abuse and mental health issues. However, there are general symptoms of Opioid abuse to be aware of such as:
- Sleeping more or less
- Weight loss or gain
- Cutting classes
- Poor academic performance
- Money problems
- Secretive or “shady” behavior
- Loss of interest in previous activities
- Changing social circles
Ready to Find Freedom?
College Opioid abuse is not uncommon, but that does not mean that any individual college student has to continue down that path. If you or a college student you know are abusing Opioids to deal with unresolved trauma, stress, or cravings, know that change is possible. Taking a step toward recovery is as simple as making one phone call and speaking with a treatment provider. Contact a rehab provider today, and take control of underlying obstacles with cutting-edge medication, therapy and support groups.
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