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Thursday, September 19, 2019

All-Natural Ways to Manage Stress This School Year

School can be incredibly stressful. Between juggling a full course load, studying for exams and writing papers, students have a lot on their plate. It can be hard to make time for yourself, but planning stress relief into each day is crucial to avoiding student burnout. With that in mind, here are seven drug-free stress management techniques to try when you feel overwhelmed.

1. Exercise

Exercise strengthens both your physical and mental health. It’s one of the best ways to combat stress. Vigorous aerobic exercise triggers the release of endorphins in your brain, creating natural feelings of euphoria. Exercise also lowers your body’s stress hormones and helps improve your sleep quality. Activities like biking, running and walking can be particularly stress-relieving, but any activity that you enjoy and that gets your heart rate up can be beneficial.

2. Keep a Gratitude Journal

If you’re feeling stressed and anxious, it can be hard to maintain a positive outlook on life. Get in the habit of jotting down things you’re thankful for, and try to come up with at least one journal entry each day. If the idea of maintaining a daily gratitude journal sounds like too much of a burden on your already jam-packed schedule, keep your entries brief. You could write something as short as, “Today, I saw beautiful wildflowers growing by the side of the road.”

3. Spend Time With Friends and Family

When you’re stressed and overworked, your relationships can fall by the wayside. However, don’t underestimate the importance of your support network to help you get through difficult times. For additional stress relief, do something that makes you laugh, like going to see the latest hit comedy. It’s hard to feel anxious when you’re laughing.

4. Don’t Procrastinate

Another smart way to maintain healthy stress levels is to keep up with your task list according to priority. Give yourself realistic deadlines and work your way down the list. Carve out chunks of uninterrupted time to work on the things you need to get done today. Avoid the temptation to multitask, which can make you less productive.

5. Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness describes practices that help you live in the moment, such as yoga and meditation. Some forms of therapy can also help you be more mindful and resilient, turning negative thoughts into positive ones.

6. Spend Time With a Pet

Interactions with pets may help release oxytocin, a mood-improving brain chemical. Having a pet can also help you stay active and provide you with a source of unconditional, judgment-free love.

7. Listen to Music

Listening to music can help you loosen up if you’re feeling anxious. Choose a slow-paced instrumental selection if you need to relax and lower your stress levels. However, any music you enjoy can be an effective mood enhancer, especially if you get up and move to it.

Be Healthy and Happy

Although stress is a natural part of life for students, there are many all-natural ways you can help yourself feel better and improve your quality of life. Next time you feel overworked, stop and try one or more of these strategies.

At our beautiful California facility, we offer qualified drug and alcohol addiction treatment for young adults who need help getting control of their lives. Explore Hope Academy’s programming options, or speak to an admissions advisor today.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

The Hidden Risks of Study Drugs

With most students across the country starting a brand-new school year, now is an ideal opportunity to remind parents that many young adults are vulnerable to experimentation with drugs. However, unlike what you might be picturing, not all these high school and college students are taking drugs to relax and get high.

The reality is sometimes quite the opposite: Students under pressure to perform well in school are taking “study drugs” in an attempt to sharpen their focus and help them overachieve.

As a parent, what do you need to know about these dangerous drugs, and how can you tell if your child is using them? Read on for your guide to study drugs.

What Are Study Drugs?

The most commonly used study drugs are prescription amphetamines designed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), such as the brand names Adderall and Ritalin. Since the purpose of these drugs is to improve concentration, students use them to help with their studies. Students usually obtain study drugs by buying them from others who have a legitimate prescription. It’s also possible to find and order them online.

Why Do Students Use Them?

Many students experience tremendous pressure to do well academically. Perhaps your high school student is in a college-preparatory curriculum and is taking an advanced course load to get into a top university, for example. Even if they are motivated to get good grades on papers and exams, an overwhelming amount of material can lead them to believe they need an extra boost to help with their schoolwork.

ADHD medications can make people who don’t have the disorder feel more energetic and focused. However, there is no conclusive research to demonstrate a connection between the use of these prescription and people’s ability to learn or retain information. Despite this lack of proof, many high school and college students turn to study drugs each year. Other than marijuana, amphetamines are the most misused drugs by college students, according to the Monitoring the Future survey published in June 2017.

Signs of Study Drug Use

What can you look for if you suspect your child is using or abusing prescription stimulants as study drugs? Here are some of the primary symptoms.
  • Headache
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea
  • Appetite loss
  • Restlessness
  • Sleep problems
Taking the drugs in higher doses increases the risk of dangerous side effects like anxiety, confusion and insomnia.

Do Study Drugs Lead to Addiction?

When used correctly under a doctor’s supervision, ADHD medications are unlikely to be habit-forming. However, misuse of study drugs can cause an addiction, especially in young adults whose brains are still developing. The Drug Enforcement Administration classifies amphetamines as Schedule II controlled substances, which means they have an approved medical use, but also have a high potential for abuse and addiction.

A person with an addiction to prescription drugs may feel as if they cannot function normally without these medications. Instead of only using them when they want to pull an all-nighter before a big exam, they start relying on drugs to maintain their “mental edge” during typical daily activities. They may also experience withdrawal symptoms like disturbed sleep, fatigue and mood disorders when they try to quit.

Along with the risk of addiction, using some of these drugs can have highly dangerous outcomes. For example, an overdose of Adderall can lead to a heart attack, and mixing it with other substances can be fatal.

What to Do If You’re Concerned About Study Drug Use

If you have reason to suspect your child might be using prescription ADHD drugs in a non-prescribed way, talk to your child about ways to develop more effective study techniques. Encourage them to be honest with you about any problems they’re having in school, and if they are feeling excess pressure to succeed, consider counseling or tutoring.

At Hope Academy, we know how worrying it can be when your child begins relying on drugs for any reason. We offer addiction programming tailored to the needs of young adults, and we accept many kinds of insurance. Contact us to learn more.
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