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A Parent’s Role: Helping Your Child Through Drug Treatment At College

A Parent’s Role: Helping Your Child Through Drug Treatment At College

A parent can feel helpless when their college student is suffering from drug use or misuse hundreds, if not thousands, of miles away. Here is what they can do to help.

College is often the first experience that many young adults have with real independence. In reality, this means that every day they’re making decisions that could potentially affect their future. For instance, they’re planning the college careers, deciding how much effort they’re going to put into academics and encountering a variety of scenarios where they have the opportunity to make either a good or a bad decision. Lapses in judgment happen, but when these lapses include the misuse of drugs and medications, it is time to get serious about helping your child through drug treatment, even if they’re thousands of miles away.

How Common Is Drug Use In College?

For any parent wanting to help their child through drug treatment, the first important step is trusting your instincts. Often, a parent will think that something seems “off” but will dismiss it as a natural part of the transition into adulthood. Unfortunately, for some their first time away from their family is an opportunity to experiment with drug use in college.

Newly found freedom isn’t the only thing that leads to experimentation with drugs in college. Stress, depression and peer pressure can also play a part. Drug use is more common than many parents realize. It’s estimated that a third of college students aged 18-22 will engage in binge drinking and that 20 percent will use illegal drugs in any given month. (1)

These statistics don’t even begin to touch the number of students who misuse legally prescribed medications.

It’s important that parents, who in many cases know their children better than anyone else, be aware of any indication of drug use and act immediately – rather than brush it off as normal college experimentation.

Signs of drug use in college students can include:

  • Changes in behavior
  • Changes in academic performance
  • Erratic and unpredictable behavior
  • Changes in physical appearance
  • Lack of communication or appearing secretive
  • Physical symptoms, such a jitteriness, bloodshot eyes, tremors, nose bleeds and poor coordination
  • A sudden change in group or type of friends

When your child is away at college, it can be difficult to pick up on some of these more subtler clues. It’s important that you act immediately if you suspect your college student is suffering or struggling with drug use.

Long Distance Drug Treatment Support

You might feel helpless if your child is struggling with drug use while away at college. As the parent, you are often the only one who is capable of advocating on behalf of your young adult. In some cases, this might mean taking the time to travel and visit your child to help get them into treatment or offer support. In many cases, it’s also possible to offer long-distance drug treatment support to your college student.

For instance, if your college student is refusing to admit to a problem or just brushes it off as occasional use, you can try taking the steps to connect them with a counselor who can talk with them and help identify if a problem exists and how to start the next steps. Some colleges will have support available, but unless you’re planning an intervention, your college student will have to take the initiative in attending these sessions.

The most effective position that a parent can take is that of love and support, without judgment. However, there may be times that you’ll need to practice a little tough love. For example, a college student that refuses to even talk to a counselor might react more positively if seeking treatment is a requirement for continued financial support. Each situation needs to be assessed individually, and as a parent, you will likely benefit from seeking the support of a therapist or substance counselor on your own to help you in your role.

Once your child has entered treatment, you can help support them by continuing to love them and provide what they need. It’s surprising how often it’s the little comforts that help a college student through drug treatment the most. The simple act of committing to regular facetime, sending care packages that include healthy foods, or gift cards to health food stores can remind them that taking care of themselves as an adult is a multifaceted process and that you’re there to support them in every way.

Addiction Center in Boca Raton for College Students

One of the most important things you can do is to research the best addiction center in Boca Raton for your child’s treatment. Drug treatment doesn’t have to interfere with the success of your college student’s academic career. Treatment centers focused on college-aged students offer services that will keep your student on track academically as they do the hard work of breaking the cycle of drug use. Helping your child begins with just one phone call.


Media Contact:

Life of Purpose Treatment 

(T): 732-421-5955





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