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Thursday, January 7, 2021

College Students Turning to Drugs to Cope With Pandemic

The arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic has affected millions of people worldwide. As case levels and death rates in America continue spiking to alarming levels, many people are craving a return to normalcy and seeking new ways to occupy the time they used to spend visiting with family and friends and attending large gatherings like concerts and plays. After nearly a year of self-quarantining and avoiding unnecessary trips outside the home, news of two viable vaccines is a ray of hope. However, delays in the vaccine rollout process might mean it could still take many months to achieve the “herd immunity” necessary to return to business as usual.

For the last several months, mental health experts have been sounding alarms about the pandemic’s long-term psychological effects. Chronic stress, coupled with grief and the mental health issues associated with isolation, could leave long-lasting societal scars. Many health professionals have shared their worries that these factors may also contribute to an increase in substance use disorders, as people increasingly turn to drugs as a coping mechanism to relieve anxiety or alleviate boredom. College students are one demographic that’s uniquely vulnerable to this issue.

Drug and Alcohol Experimentation Is Rising During COVID-19

Even before the pandemic emerged as a major public health threat, binge drinking and drug use was a prevalent problem on college campuses from coast to coast. Substances like alcohol, marijuana and prescription stimulants such as Adderall are readily accessible on many campuses. College also provides a more permissive environment where students might choose to use their newfound freedom and independence as a justification for engaging in risky behavior. Widespread lockdowns drove many people to buy and sell drugs online, making these addictive substances even more easily available.

Once using and drinking becomes part of college culture, students might not realize they’re developing a problematic relationship with drugs and alcohol. If getting drunk or high is the typical way you and your friends spend your nights and weekends, your tolerance will continue increasing, and you’ll be increasingly in danger of progressing to a substance use disorder. The pandemic also makes it less likely that many people will seek the necessary help for addictive tendencies and any co-occurring mental health conditions, thus compounding these problems.

Drug-Free Ways to Cope With the COVID-19 Pandemic

What can you do to stay safe and avoid falling into the cycle of substance abuse that has affected so many college students? Here are some tips for coping with the stress, isolation and idle time that have characterized the pandemic.

  • Limit your news consumption: While it’s essential to stay abreast of evolving community health updates, it’s not productive to doomscroll through your newsfeed every time you feel bored. Only allow yourself to check daily headlines at specific intervals, and set a timer so you don’t spend too long staring at your screen.
  • Keep up with your physical and mental wellness: Incorporate exercise, a healthy diet and mindfulness activities into your daily life. A 30-minute walk outside can elevate your heart rate and provide a mood boost that carries you through the rest of your day.
  • Start a new hobby or revisit an old one: Self-quarantine is an ideal opportunity to spark your creativity. Activities like journaling, painting and needlework can turn formerly unproductive hours into a healthy habit you look forward to doing.

Seeking Young Adult Addiction Treatment at Hope Academy

If you’ve been struggling with substance abuse issues and have made it a priority to get clean and sober in 2021, Hope Academy is here for you. At our California drug rehab center, we work exclusively with young adults who want to learn how to make healthier life choices. Reach out today to learn more about our services and how to verify your insurance coverage.

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Holiday Triggers for Young Adults: How to Deal With Holiday Stress

Most of us experience excess stress during the holiday season, which is usually a whirlwind of gift shopping and wrapping, decorating and celebrating with family, friends and colleagues. While all these activities are supposed to be enjoyable, they can also start to feel exhausting as the season progresses. What are some productive ways you can deal with holiday stress this year?

1. Don’t Overspend

Many people spend too much money during the holidays – even young adults. If you’re trying to stay within your budget and save money for expenses like rent, car payments and college tuition, it doesn’t make sense to go overboard on pricey presents and fancy foods.

Instead of buying gifts for everyone on your list, spare yourself the stress of holiday overspending. Think about alternatives that can show friends and loved ones how much you care without breaking the bank. If you’ve always been crafty, you might make handmade gifts like knitted scarves. Or, consider creating “coupons” your recipients can exchange for services like helping them wash their car or clean their house.

2. Learn to Say No

Overcommitment is another factor that contributes to holiday stress. If you’re the type of person who always says yes to everything, even when you already have far too much on your plate, you can easily find yourself overwhelmed during the holidays. Embrace the power of setting healthy boundaries and learning to say no politely. There’s no reason to feel guilty about telling someone, “I’m sorry, I can’t do that because I’m too busy.”

3. Combat Seasonal Affective Disorder

Another “silent stressor” that can detract from the joy of the holidays is seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. The transition from fall to winter leads to shorter days and colder weather. Many of us spend more time indoors, which leads to a form of depression. If you often feel fatigued and less enthusiastic about life in the winter, you may suffer from SAD.

When this mood disorder coincides with the holidays, it can make you irritable and cause you to savor special occasions less. Many people find relief from SAD with daily, at-home light therapy. When the weather permits, you can also take walks outside. Exercise and exposure to sunlight can help reduce SAD symptoms.

4. Make Time to Breathe

If you feel overwhelmed, you might be surprised how much better you feel after you spend a little bit on deep breathing exercises. You don’t necessarily have to do a full meditation – even pausing for a few minutes can be beneficial. With each inhale, picture yourself breathing in love, and with each exhale, consciously let go of anxiety.

A Happier, Healthier Holiday Season

If you have a problematic relationship with alcohol or drugs, there’s hope for a brighter future. With young adult addiction treatment, you can learn to break the cycle of addiction and replace unhealthy coping mechanisms with ones that contribute to your well-being. We invite you to contact us at Hope Academy to learn more about our services.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Finding Daily Joy During a Pandemic

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to sweep the globe with no cure in sight, it can be challenging to stay mentally and emotionally resilient. A steady stream of news stories about rising U.S. case numbers and coronavirus-related deaths can leave you feeling burned out, but you also want to stay informed during this public health crisis.

It’s not always easy to take joy in life when times are tough. And, as a compassionate person, you might feel guilty finding the humor in everyday life when so many people are suffering worldwide. However, short bursts of positivity are essential for your overall well-being because they help serve as an emotional release valve. To overcome negativity and boost your mood, consider these ways to find daily joy amid stressful circumstances.

1. Make Yourself Laugh

There’s more than a little truth to the saying that laughter makes the best medicine. Laughter can improve your immune system, strengthen your bonds with others and insulate you from stress. Watch your favorite comedy movie or show, read a collection of funny jokes or find a stand-up comedy special on YouTube.

2. Double up on Self-Care

If you’re feeling stressed or anxious about the future, self-care might be the first thing you sacrifice on your schedule. Maybe you’re struggling to stick with a regular sleep routine, or finding the motivation to work out. But taking good care of your body is crucial for your physical and mental health. Get the recommended seven to nine hours of restful sleep each night, and make time for exercise. Even a brief walk around your neighborhood or a 20-minute series of yoga poses can help you feel happier.

3. Impose a Sense of Order

Instead of getting overwhelmed with worries about the things you can’t control, take proactive steps to take charge of your environment. Simple things like decluttering your living space and making your bed each morning can bring you more inner calm. When you wake up, take a shower, brush your teeth and get dressed, even if you don’t have anywhere to go. Following a regular routine will make your life more joyful by giving you a sense that things are orderly and tidy.

4. Experience Nature

The natural world is inherently therapeutic. Spending time outdoors has a range of benefits for your mental health. If the weather isn’t cooperating, even looking at photos of the forest, beach or mountains can give you the same advantages.

Change Your Lifestyle for Good

If substance abuse is preventing you from achieving your full potential, don’t despair. A joyful, substance-free life awaits at Hope Academy. We specialize in young adult addiction treatment. Contact us to learn about the tools we offer for managing your illness and getting you on the path to sobriety.

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Why Study Drugs Don’t Work

Perhaps you have a classmate who swears “study drugs” like Ritalin and Adderall have helped sharpen their focus before an exam or a major sports competition. You might have even tried them yourself to pull an all-nighter or try to have a more productive study session.

Doctors commonly prescribe these medications to help people with ADHD concentrate on the task at hand, which has increased the prevalence of study drugs on campuses from coast to coast. Many dangerous myths surround these drugs, and people who use them recreationally or without a doctor’s supervision can do themselves more harm than good. Let’s look at the top reasons study drugs don’t work.

1. Study Drugs Can Impair Your Concentration

Maybe you’ve never received a diagnosis of ADHD, but you’ve heard rumors that prescription stimulants can make you smarter. Instead of boosting academic success by sharpening your concentration, alertness and cognitive abilities, these drugs may worsen your short-term memory and leave you jittery and distracted. In people without ADHD, these medications can lead to poor impulse control and rash behavior.

2. Using Medication Without a Prescription Is Dangerous

There’s a persistent misconception that all prescription drugs are “safe” to use. However, using stimulant medications without a doctor’s guidance is illegal, and comes with a host of side effects. When used improperly or excessively, study drugs can cause health problems such as irregular heartbeat, insomnia, headaches, digestive problems, anxiety, mood swings and high blood pressure. Trying to taper off these meds or quit using them cold turkey can lead to withdrawal, an even more unpleasant situation.

3. Prescription Stimulants Are Highly Addictive

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency lists prescription stimulants as Schedule 2 drugs, due to their strong potential for abuse and addiction. They’re among infamous company on that list – opioids and cocaine are also Schedule 2 substances. People who take medications like Adderall and Ritalin recreationally might crush the pills and snort them to achieve faster-acting effects. They could also use a much higher dose than what a doctor would prescribe, either because they’re unaware of the correct dosage or they’ve reached a point where it takes more and more of the drug to achieve the same feelings.

Boost Your GPA the Old-Fashioned Way

Instead of relying on drugs and risking your mental and physical health in pursuit of better grades, go back to basics with these tried-and-true study tips.
  • Get a tutor: Many college campuses offer free or low-cost resources to students, including tutoring services. If you’re struggling to keep up in a class or worried about passing an exam, a tutor can help break down complex topics in an easy-to-understand way.
  • Stay on a sleep schedule: College students are often chronically sleep-deprived. However, creating a consistent sleep schedule will ensure you get enough shuteye to feel well-rested and wake up with plenty of energy and enthusiasm to face the day.
  • Don’t procrastinate: It can feel tempting to wait until the last minute to start studying for a test or working on a big assignment. However, this approach can make you anxious and less likely to do your best work.

Young Adult Addiction Treatment in California

If prescription stimulant addiction is adversely affecting your life, contact us at Hope Academy. We proudly offer qualified addiction treatment that makes it possible for high school and college students to be well-adjusted adults.

Thursday, September 3, 2020

The Benefits of Creating a COVID-19 Routine

2020 has been a year unlike any other. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed many systemic failings in our nation’s social contract, leaving people vulnerable to the spread of a potentially deadly and disabling virus.

Even if some or all the businesses in your area have recently reopened with fewer restrictions, you could still be spending more time at home due to campus closures and a desire to protect yourself and your neighbors from illness. How can having a routine benefit you in these changed circumstances, and what are some ideas for creating a COVID-19 routine that works for you?

Reasons to Develop a COVID-19 Routine

High schools and colleges that are still operating on a virtual classroom model, instead of in-person instruction, are doing the right thing by encouraging students to limit interactions that could accelerate transmission of the novel coronavirus. Still, humans are creatures of habit. Without structure in our days, we start to feel aimless and adrift.

Having a daily schedule gives you a sense of purpose. Knowing what you need to do and when it needs to happen can bring much-needed certainty when other aspects of your life are on shaky ground. A routine can also benefit your mental health by giving you something to look forward to each day.

How to Develop Your Routine

You have finite hours in a day, but planning how to fill them with meaningful activities can help you make the most of your life. You don’t need a meticulous plan for every moment of your day, but in general, try to create a COVID-19 routine that accounts for:
  • Consistent times when you’ll wake up and go to bed, ensuring you get seven to nine hours of good-quality sleep per night
  • Studying independently, or participating in online classes and discussions
  • Preparing and eating meals
  • Exercising
  • Leisure time – building breaks into the day can help re-energize you to tackle the next tasks.

The Value of To-Do Lists

Having a daily or weekly to-do list can help you stay on track, especially if you don’t currently have the structure of in-person instruction to keep you accountable. To-do lists can be a vital tool for anyone who is new to working without direct supervision, as they provide a visual reminder of what you need to accomplish.

When you create your to-do list, be sure to break each large project into the individual steps necessary to complete it. For instance, if you have to write a paper, you might start by researching your subject, then create an outline of ideas. Follow those steps with the writing and the bibliography, and finish by proofreading your work.

If you finish a project or assignment earlier than you expected, don’t use that as an excuse to curl up on the couch and watch TV. Instead, look to your to-do list for the next few days to see if there are any opportunities to get ahead. Your future self will thank you!

Addiction Treatment Tailored to Young Adults

At Hope Academy, we understand younger people have different needs in drug and alcohol rehab, and that this stage of life brings unique challenges that can complicate the recovery process. Our qualified addiction specialists have created programming specifically to help high school and college-aged students discover who they are without the burdens of substance abuse standing between them and genuine happiness. Call today for your confidential assessment.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

How Does Alcohol Affect Young Adults?

Many high school and college students view drinking as a rite of passage, and pop culture has perpetuated that idea by depicting young adults going to rowdy parties where the alcohol flows freely. The teen years are also a time when many young people are experiencing their first taste of adulthood, with milestones like earning a driver’s license and moving out of their parents’ house.

Underage drinking may be one way for young adults to test their boundaries and assert their independence. Often, people in this age range are more susceptible to peer pressure and the desire to fit in with their friends, which could lead them to experiment with alcohol. What should parents and young adults know about the risks of drinking?

The Dangers of Drinking for Young Adults

Young adults may feel invincible, believing there will be no negative consequences of binge drinking. However, alcohol abuse can quickly spiral into a pattern of self-destruction that is challenging to escape without help.

A teen or college-aged person who develops an alcohol misuse disorder can lose an otherwise promising future with difficulties such as the following.
  • Problems in school: Students who drink might wake up feeling too hung over to pay attention in school, or could start skipping class altogether. Alcohol abuse can also interfere with a student’s academic performance. If their grades fall too far, they might risk expulsion from school.
  • Impaired cognition: Because people’s brains continue to develop until their mid-20s, young adults who drink or use drugs might eventually have trouble concentrating, retaining new memories or making smart decisions.
  • Reckless behavior: A drunk person might behave entirely differently than they do when they are sober, since alcohol lowers inhibitions. A young adult under the influence of alcohol could decide to do something irresponsible like starting a fight or having unprotected sex. Illegal activities such as drunk driving or vandalism could lead to an arrest.
  • Health issues: The physical, mental and emotional effects of alcohol misuse don’t happen immediately, but over the long term, heavy drinking can raise the risk of developing organ and tissue damage, high blood pressure, depression, obesity and even some forms of cancer. Someone who drinks as a young adult might not meet all the standards for a diagnosis of alcohol use disorder at the time. They can still go on to struggle with alcoholism later in life, though.

Addressing Alcohol Abuse in Young Adults

Age-specific alcohol rehab is often ideal because younger people have different treatment needs and cultural expectations. Look for a young adult treatment center that offers therapy in addition to essential life skills such as job readiness. At Hope Academy, our goal is to prepare young people to be confident, independent adults upon their discharge from treatment. We have tailored our program to the unique needs of teens and college-aged students. To learn more about how Hope Academy can help rebuild the foundation of your life, contact us today.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Sober Summer Fun During COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic has affected nearly every facet of our daily lives. Depending on the restrictions your city and state have implemented to protect people and inhibit the spread of COVID-19, many of your favorite summer activities may currently be off-limits to you. What are some ideas for sober summer fun during this time?

1. Plan a “Staycation”

Many of us have had to put our vacation plans on hold indefinitely, which can be frustrating. However, one silver lining during COVID-19 has been the ability to go on free, virtual tours of many world-class museums, art galleries and other attractions. You’ll feel like you’ve gone somewhere new, even if you haven’t set foot outside.

2. Become an Outdoor Chef

When the temperatures are hot and muggy, you don’t want to trap even more heat inside your home by cooking on the stove or using your oven. If you have a grill, the good news is that you can cook everything from main dishes to sides and even dessert outside! Once you’ve mastered a few grilled recipes, you can serve nutritious meals for your whole household.

3. Plant a Garden

Homemade foods such as freshly baked bread have become somewhat of a pandemic trend. What could be a better way to hop on board with this fad than to start a garden? It’s gratifying to nurture plants and watch them grow, and you’ll get to reap the bounty of delicious seasonal produce such as tomatoes, squash, zucchini, herbs and watermelon. If you don’t have a yard or a lot of extra space to work with, try container gardening.

4. Volunteer

Even if COVID-19 has somewhat restricted your options for in-person volunteering, you can still find plenty of volunteer opportunities online. Thousands of organizations need talented volunteers for a wide range of projects, so if you have skills such as graphic design, computer programming, bookkeeping and email marketing, put them to good use helping worthy causes.

5. Learn a New Skill

It’s never too late to learn something new. Perhaps there’s a specific school subject you want to revisit over the summer to prepare ahead of the fall semester, or you’d like to branch out and learn something totally different. Either way, you don’t have to leave home to get more educated about a wide range of topics. Many online learning providers are offering free courses you can take advantage of during COVID-19.

6. Move Your Exercise Routine Outside

The long, sunny days of summer are the perfect opportunity to start an outdoor fitness regimen. Swimming, hiking, biking, running and even yoga are all excellent exercises to do outside. You can reap the mental and physical health benefits of fitness, combined with the healing power of nature, to make the most of your time this summer.

We Make Recovery a Reality

During the coronavirus pandemic, getting treatment for a substance abuse problem is as necessary as ever. At Hope Academy, we provide young adults with the tools and support they need to recover from an addiction and realize their full potential in life. To learn more about starting recovery at our California drug and alcohol rehab, contact us today.
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