In addition to the information provided below, there are free screenings available to you. If you are concerned about your thoughts, feelings, and/or behaviors (including your use of alcohol), please use the online screening program to give yourself some feedback with complete anonymity. Just login with the keyword “Wooster.” If you have any questions, please give us a call 330-263-2319.
College lifestyle can include a component of experimentation and use of alcohol and other substances. People can choose, for many different reasons, to use alcohol or other substances sometimes as a release to “blow off steam” from academic stressors, socializing, or just having fun.
When it becomes a problem
For most, use is in moderation and does not become pervasive. However, it is important to understand that there can be negative consequences to use, either using for the wrong reasons (using it as an escape from problems or to avoid undesirable circumstances), inability to regulate their own limits, disregard for legality (i.e. despite your personal beliefs about marijuana or other substances, there still may be legal consequences for use), or addiction.
If you are seeking support in maintaining sobriety, please check the local listing of AA and NA Meetings provided by One Eighty.
Things to consider
Some things to consider if you are unsure if substances have become an issue for you:
- Does it take more and more of a substances to get a buzz or high?
- Have you tried to cut back and been unable to do so?
- Does the recovery time take longer?
- Has it negatively affected your relationships? School work?
- Do you have legal circumstances related to use?
- Have you used more than you planned to?
- Have you or people around you noticed a change in mood?
- Do you minimize your use to others?
There are multiple scenarios in which substances use can be part of social situations in an appropriate way, try these tips to maintain that you are being proactive about your wellbeing:
- Set your own limit for where you want to feel comfortable for the evening, BEFORE you go out.
- Plan ahead for downtime (there are going to be plenty of opportunities for relaxing with friends, make sure that you are aware of that paper due first thing in the morning).
- Drink plenty of water and snack.
- Make sure you trust individuals you are around (not just for physical safety, but also because you don’t want that picture posted online the next morning from your frienemy).
- Have a plan to check in with someone
- Be willing to let someone cut you off and hold you accountable
There are so many things that pull you in different directions in college, whether academics, work, friends, family, clubs, and just trying to figure out how to be independent for the first time. These are a lot of added responsibilities. It can be difficult to know how to balance all of these components AND take care of yourself.
Anxiety is normal
Anxiety is a normal reaction to stressful events. We all experience anxiety, and a little anxiety can be good to help motivate you and remind you of just how responsible and connected you are! For some, it can be difficult to learn new coping skills or even know what those coping skills may be.
Normal responses to stressors can include*:
- Worrying about circumstantial events, such as an assignment or a breakup, that will leave you upset.
- Embarrassment or self-consciousness in the face of uncomfortable social situations (for example not knowing many people when you first get to school).
- Cases of “nerves” or jitters, dizziness or sweating over an assignment or other important event.
- Realistic fear of a threatening situation (Looking both ways before you step of the curb on Beall).
- Wanting to be sure that you are healthy (Balancing the pizza line at Lowry with the fresh salads).
- Anxiety, sadness, or difficulty sleeping immediately following at traumatic even (or an event with a large adjustment)
If you find that these symptoms have become exacerbated and have become pervasive to the point of you being unable to function in a healthy manner – seek help. There are resources available.
Try some of these coping techniques*:
- Exercise. Physical activity helps your body and mind. Got for a walk, go to the gym, play Frisbee, just get moving!
- Eat a balanced diet. Don’t skip meals, and minimize caffeine as it can trigger anxiety and panic attacks
- Limit alcohol and stay away from illegal drugs.
- Get involved, being active in the community helps create a support network
- Do your BEST instead of trying to be PERFECT
- Take a time-out. Take a deep breath and count to 10. Stepping back from a problem can help you get a clear mind.
- Put things in perspective. Think about your situation, is it as bad as you are building in your mind, or can there be solutions.
- Talk to someone.
- Find out what triggers your anxiety. Take notes and jot down patterns.
Apps for anxiety:
- Pacifica (Free)
- Mindshift (Free)
- Headspace (Free 10 day trial)
*Taken in part from Anxiety and Depression Association of America
We will all experience low mood, and struggle with certain difficult aspects of our life. Depression is not a mood that will just “go away,” and if you begin to feel as if you are having a hard time coping or experience some of the symptoms below, you may be struggling with depression*:
- Feelings of sadness, emptiness or unhappiness
- Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters
- Loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities, such as spending time with friends
- Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much
- Tiredness and lack of energy, so that even small tasks take extra effort
- Changes in appetite — often reduced appetite and weight loss, but increased cravings for food and weight gain in some people
- Anxiety, agitation or restlessness — for example, excessive worrying, pacing, hand-wringing or an inability to sit still
- Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or blaming yourself for things that are not your responsibility
- Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
- Frequent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or suicide
- Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches
Depression is treatable
Don’t feel discouraged, depression is very treatable. Talking with a counselor and developing new coping skills and working towards understanding your body can reduce the impact that symptoms have. Try some of these coping skills to get started*:
- Simplify your life. Cut back on obligations when possible, and set reasonable goals for yourself. Give yourself permission to do less when you feel down.
- Write in a journal. Journaling, as part of your treatment, may improve mood by allowing you to express pain, anger, fear or other emotions.
- Don’t become isolated. Try to participate in social activities, and get together with family or friends regularly.
- Take care of yourself. Eat a healthy diet, be physically active and get plenty of sleep.
- Learn ways to relax and manage your stress. Examples include meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, yoga and tai chi.
- Structure your time. Plan your day. You may find it helps to make a list of daily tasks, use sticky notes as reminders or use a planner to stay organized.
- Don’t make important decisions when you’re down. Avoid decision-making when you’re feeling depressed, since you may not be thinking clearly.
*Taken from Mayo Clinic
Most people falling victim to eating disorders do not realize their behavior follows disordered eating patterns.
Eating disorder behavior patterns include:
- Feeling guilty when you eat
- Comparing your eating habits to those around you
- Defining your self-worth based on how you’ve eaten that day
- Socially isolating yourself based on perceived weight and/or appearance problems (not going out or not joining friends to meals, or avoiding them during meal times)
- Turning to weight and food obsessions or exercise to fix other issues
- Over-exercising to make up for food eaten
- Blaming social problems on weight and food issues.
Disordered eating can come and go, and can be very difficult to identify. If any of the above examples sound like you, talking to someone can prevent more severe problems from forming.
*Taken from the University of Michigan
Traumatic events can touch all of our lives. Trauma is also very relative to our experience. A crisis is defined as a period of intense difficulty, trouble or danger. Our bodies tend to respond to such events with “fight or flight.” It can create a lot of different emotions and linger affects for the survivor, whether it be the loss of a loved one, being victimized in some way, or experiencing a natural disaster. This can be referred to as post-traumatic stress. This does not mean that it will become pervasive or keep you from functioning, but there are some things to be prepared for:
You may feel emotionally:
- Anxious or fearful
- Overwhelmed by sadness
- Guilty, even when you had no control
- Heroic, like you can do anything
- Like you have too much energy or none at all
- Numb, unable to feel either joy or sadness
You may also have physical reactions:
- Having stomachaches
- Having headaches or physical pains for no reason
- Eating too much or too little
- Sweating or having chills
- Being jumpy or easily startled.
Here are a few things that can help:
- Talk with someone. Connecting with others who accept and understand you feelings is the best way to help yourself.
- Move your body. It is the next best way to reduce stress.
- Meditate and listen to music timed to your breathing.
- Promote physical care by eating healthy meals and snacks, getting enough rest, and drinking plenty of water
- Reestablish routines. Get back doing things that you would normally do every day. This will help you regain a sense of control over your life.
- Knowing that it’s ok to celebrate and have moments of joy after a trauma.
- Try not to let thoughts about the trauma take over your thinking. If you are having a hard time making sense of what happened, seek out counsel of someone you trust<.li>
*Taken from SAMSHA