Substance Abuse

By Zach Srnis

College kids, normally aged 18-22, deal with a multitude of new pressures that often lead to them experimenting with drinking to relieve stress.

The National Survey on Drug and Health recorded that alcohol trumps smoking for people that are ages 18-22. According to the survey, 59.6 percent of students admit to consuming alcoholic beverages. Only 35 percent of the same age group admit to smoking.

Ronda Blaney, a substance abuse counselor from Cleveland, said that she thinks the lack of smoking comes from the government’s marketing campaign targeted at stopping smoking. There is not a campaign of the same strength for drinking.

“Advertisements that preach against smoking and the health risks that it provides have nearly doubled over the last few years,” Blaney said. “Millennials have seen the effects of smoking, by seeing people that are older than them, and they learn from the mistakes of others.”

Blaney said that the increase in alcohol consumption in college students can often result from the freedom they gain when living on their own.

“There is a certain level of curiosity that accompanies students as they go to college,” Blaney said. “Students have lived with their family for their entire lives, and now they seek a belonging. They want to associate themselves with a group of people, and if alcohol is often consumed, not drinking prevents them from joining the group.”

Deborah Smith, a substance abuse counselor in Boardman, said college is not as big an influence on substance abuse as people may think.

“About a third of my clients are 18-22,” Smith said. “While I understand the perception of college campuses and the influence that they might have on a young individual, most of my clients ages 18-22 do not go to college. Those who attend college campuses deal with the perception others have of them.”

Smith mentioned the stressors that non-college students have often lead them to abusing alcohol as well.

“Those that choose not to attend college still have their own stressors that they deal with on a daily basis,” Smith said. “People that choose not to go to college have to work long hours at a tough job. They experience a lot of responsibilities at a young age and that leads to alcohol and substance abuse.”

Rodney Kelley, a substance abuse counselor from Cleveland, spoke on the process that they go through with clients.

“We want to know what role substances have in their life,” Kelley said. “We determine the effect that substance have had on the individual’s family and their education. I then create a treatment plan with the client and check in regularly.”

Kelley concluded with an issue of important advice to substance abusers.

“It is important to let someone know about your situation and allow them to help you,” Kelley said. “It is important to receive help before it is too late.”

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