The Relationship Between College and Substance Use Disorder

Going to college is a major life transition, full of stresses and challenges. Unfortunately, not everyone rises successfully to the challenge—and the problems that arise can be worse than low grades or even dropping out.

  • Seventy-three percent of college students will experience some level of mental health crisis during their higher-education years—about two-thirds of them to the point of psychiatric disorder.
  • Forty-five percent of college students admit to struggling with feelings of hopelessness.
  • Almost one-third struggle with depression that hampers everyday functioning.
  • At least 20 percent use illicit drugs; over 33 percent engage in binge drinking; and nearly half have symptoms of substance use disorder.

And that’s just the students who get into college at all. While the high-school dropout rate in Orange County is low, it’s worth noting that youth who never achieve a diploma or GED are nearly twice as likely as others to develop drug-abuse problems.

Moving Forward

While education is well known for its advantages in building a successful future, college or university also comes with risks of messing up that future—most of these risks stemming from one of two primary causes:

  1. College brings new stresses and pressures to perform. Between large-scale health concerns and the search for balance between in-person and virtual learning, higher education in the early 2020s is proving uniquely stressful. But college has never been an easy transition, being performance- and expectation-based in a way that high school never was. A stressed, frustrated, and discouraged student is extra vulnerable to having a mood disorder surface—and more open to trying drugs as mood improvers or “study aids.”
  1. Many students are separated from familiar support networks, often for the first time ever. For new students at universities far from home, it’ll be months before most see their nuclear families or longtime mentors again in person—and the high school peer crowd has scattered far and wide. Not only is it natural to seek new connections wherever they can be found: the feeling that comes with being newly “on one’s own,” combined with the assumption that no one back home will really know what goes on, is a major trigger for reckless behavior. Small wonder that many university “traditions” involve considerable acting out (for instance, the fraternity-and-sorority population is at high risk for using alcohol and marijuana carelessly, and for developing long-term substance use disorders).

Orange County Higher-Education Options

Being separated from an at-home support network is also a common trigger for relapse in those who have pre-existing mental or behavioral health disorders. For that reason, any prospective college student recovering from struggles in those areas (or having family members with a history of related illnesses) is well advised to consider local colleges and universities for at least the first year or two.

Also recommended:

  • Advance therapy and coaching in preparation for the pressures of higher education
  • A solid action plan for avoiding relapse traps, managing academic pressures, and finding better recreation activities than “party culture”
  • A 12-Step group or other organized peer-support program including fellow students
  • An ongoing relationship with a therapist during college/university years.

If the Orange County/Newport Beach area is your home territory, one good option is Orange Coast College, a Costa Mesa campus in the community-college tradition of providing low-cost education with a focus on the practical aspects of life skills and career development. After completing an associate degree or certification at community-college level, students can continue their education by transferring to a university (now better equipped to manage their studies and resist toxic temptations) or otherwise pursue further education/experience.

Lists of other Orange County colleges and universities are on the PACE Academy/For College Students page, Orange County’s government website, and the Community College Review website. Research carefully, choose wisely, schedule advance tours before final selection—and go forward with a positive attitude and confidence in the future!

Starting Over in Orange County

If you’ve struggled with a drug problem or mental illness, you may fear that your chances of being accepted to any college are already ruined for good. Be assured this doesn’t have to be the case. With proper treatment and a solid plan for the future, anyone can make a fresh start.

PACE Recovery Center not only provides treatment and residential rehab for young men fighting substance abuse and mental disorders, we offer structured planning support for high-school and college-age students whose educational progress has been impaired by behavioral illness. Our higher-education preparation and support program has connections with multiple Orange County colleges and universities. Contact us today to get started on taking your life back. Positive Attitudes Change Everything!

The Psychology of Hope

“Hope” is a word often used in less-than-hopeful contexts: “I hope this or that happens” frequently carries the implication, “but it probably won’t.” A proper understanding of hope, however, focuses on an optimistic attitude that not only wishes for good things but expects them, and takes an active role in bringing them about. Properly hopeful people are consistently healthier and more successful than their more pessimistic counterparts.

Hope and Recovery

Our motto at PACE is Positive Attitude Changes Everything—not least for those struggling with chemical dependency, mental illness, or both. Even if your mind, will, and sense of order have become uncontrollable, you can still make the decision to seek help in reclaiming a healthy life.

One important early step on the road to recovery is realizing that hope isn’t something you either have or don’t have: it’s a skill that can be learned and practiced. Even if your temperament isn’t naturally geared toward high optimism, you can build new habits to improve your everyday hope quotient.

The key elements of positive hope are that it’s:

Values-Based

Living only to make money, advance your status, or indulge yourself reaps feelings of emptiness. True fulfillment includes a commitment to something bigger than yourself, whether that’s a religious/spiritual outlook, a social cause, or shared happiness with friends and family. Decide where your greater purpose lies, and commit to living everyday life according to values that serve that purpose.

Proactive

Stephen Covey labeled proactive living as the first secret of being “highly effective.” Reactive people wait for good luck to happen to them, blame everything and everyone else when it doesn’t, consider themselves powerless victims of circumstances—and go through life “just following orders” and usually bitter and depressed. Proactive people make things happen. They keep their hope active by taking responsibility for their lives and by focusing on what they can do without fretting about the rest.

Goal-Oriented

Proactive goals, worked for and achieved, are the building blocks of hope. You may have heard of the SMART principle: worthwhile goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely (aka set with deadlines). They also should be personally meaningful: working for peer approval or someone else’s dream will only leave you frustrated.

Adaptable

Even the best-planned goals aren’t guaranteed to come off flawlessly. (Ask any experienced achiever whose original 2020 calendar was filled with travel plans and public-speaking engagements.) Healthy hope accepts that course corrections will be necessary and disappointments inevitable. Rather than take difficulties as evidence that planning doesn’t work, a hopeful person knows how to shift to Plan B and keep moving in the right overall direction.

Persistent

Where hope includes belief in long-term goals and dreams, it also includes stick-to-itiveness to keep going, even in the face of setbacks and delays.

Resilient

Resilience is the driving force behind adaptability and persistence—and more. Resilience:

  • Remains confident of recovery even from major disasters
  • Enables people to get back on track in the aftermath of relapsing into mental illness or drug use
  • Knows that wherever life continues, failure is never total.

Growth-Minded

Just as there’s no such thing as complete failure, there’s no such thing as complete success: growth was always intended to be a lifelong journey. Understanding this is important if you want to avoid the “I’ve blown it, so I might as well give up trying” trap. “Progress, not perfection” is hope’s mantra. Internalize it, and you’ll not only build up resistance to quitting: you’ll enjoy life far more as you approach each day expecting new opportunities, adventures, and achievements yet to come.

Embrace a Positive Attitude for Lasting Recovery

Positive Attitude Changes Everything—even the worst life situations. But if you have a behavioral and/or mental illness, the change to a healthy, hope-centered life isn’t a journey to undertake alone. PACE Recovery Center provides detox, care, and therapy for men seeking freedom from addiction and hopelessness.

Don’t let anyone tell you that “being a man” requires bottling up your feelings and toughing everything out alone. We understand your needs, and we provide a safe, empathetic environment for rediscovering your true identity. Contact us today to learn more!

Drugs That Cause Hallucinations

Ingesting certain drugs can cause hallucinations. Hallucinations change your brain’s awareness of its surroundings. In turn, your mind forms images, smells, and sounds that might seem real to you, but they are not. 

Doing them regularly could result in psychotic episodes and other long-term problems. This guide outlines drugs that cause hallucinations, how they affect the brain, symptoms of use, and treatments.

Which Drugs Lead to Hallucinations?

The National Institute on Drug Abuse classifies two types of drugs causing hallucinations: classic and dissociative drugs. Here is a look at some of the drugs that lead to altered mental states:

  • LSD: LSD, also known as D-lysergic acid diethylamide, comes in white or clear material. When someone takes LSD, they go on an acid trip, invoking images of vivid color, inanimate objects moving, and tasting sounds. 
  • Peyote: It is a cactus containing mescaline. People can also synthesize it. After taking it, you can feel like you’re in a dream. Your mind can form hallucinations even with your eyes closed. 
  • DMT: You can find DMT (N,-N-dimethyltryptamine) derived from Ayahuasca, a chemical found in Amazonian plants. People use the chemical to make tea or synthesize it into white powder to smoke. DMT has a reputation for giving its users an intense hallucination. 
  • Psilocybin: It comes from mushrooms found in the United States, Mexico, and South America. After eating them, hallucinations can form within 30 minutes. These include altered realities, feelings of paranoia and confusion, and distortions in sound. 

Meanwhile, there are dissociative drugs, such as PCP, Ketamine, Salvia, and DXM, which can also cause hallucinations.

Are There Side Effects to Taking Drugs Causing Hallucinations?

Yes, users can experience the following symptoms during or after hallucinating:

  • Rapid heart rate
  • Nausea
  • Dry mouth
  • Paranoia (being afraid of others or surroundings)
  • Sweating
  • Panic
  • Fitful sleep
  • Changes in perception of time
  • Intense sensory experiences (tasting sounds, seeing vivid colors, etc.)

Meanwhile, taking hallucinating drugs could result in psychosis. When a person undergoes a psychotic episode, they might exhibit:

  • Paranoid thoughts
  • Rapid changes in mood or behavior
  • Disconnected thinking and speech

Users might also experience Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder. It is where you can relive drug experiences from your past–even if you do not use them anymore. Your mind can produce flashbacks of hallucinations you encountered. It can occur from a few days to a year or more after using the drug

How are Dissociative Drugs Different?

These drugs present different symptoms, such as numbness, raised blood pressure, memory loss, seizures, amnesia, the inability to move, problems breathing, and mood swings. Moreover, dissociative drugs tend to result in higher overdoses. A person overusing PCP could experience coma, seizures, and ultimately, death. 

Providing a Way Out

Hallucinogenic drugs carry severe side effects that can stay with a person for more than a year after use. If you or someone you know exhibits some of the symptoms outlined in this guide, know that help is here when you’re ready.

We tailor our treatment options to cater exclusively to men’s needs. It includes uncovering the source of why you use it. And helping you develop the coping skills necessary to live a drug-free future. Learn about all the treatment options available to you by contacting the Pace Recovery Center today. 

Why Do We Make New Year’s Resolutions?

The excitement of a new year represents a chance to reset and approach your New Year’s resolutions from a hopeful lens. And it has been a common way for people to set goals over time. 

When Did New Year’s Resolutions Originate?

Both the Babylonians and the Egyptians celebrated the start of the new calendar year. The Babylonians celebrated in March, commemorating it with a prolonged festival. Meanwhile, the Egyptians celebrated the new calendar year coinciding with the annual flood from the Nile River. 

In particular, the Babylonians pledged to their gods good behavior for the coming year in hopes they curry favor from them. Often, this involved a pledge for them to pay off old debts. 

The Evolution of New Year’s Resolutions

In the past, it was not uncommon for people to pledge resolutions on having a better diet, exercising more and making more money. However, a survey from Affirm found that trends are starting to adjust.

The survey discovered that 71% of respondents pledge to learn new skills or set realistic goals. Along with learning a new skill, resolving to save more money and pay down debt were also popular trends. 

Another change consists of people focusing more on how they spend their time. Of those surveyed, more than half want to spend more time with their family, and 49% want to travel more.

How Do I Keep My New Year’s Resolutions?

Anytime you’re learning to adjust to new behaviors, it is vital to set realistic goals. Here are a few tips to help you achieve them:

Set Smaller Goals That are Easy to Accomplish

You can start by setting small, realistic goals. It is much more manageable to do in that you might not have to alter your behaviors much. And over time, you’ll see the benefit of these small choices, giving you more incentive to do other things.

Share Your New Year’s Resolutions with a Friend

Another tip is to find someone you trust and share your goals with them. Anytime you’re undertaking a new behavior or perspective, you want to find someone supportive who can keep you on course. They can check in to see how your progress goes and share insights to help you achieve your goals.

Alter Goals as Needed

Moreover, give yourself the freedom to adjust. If a goal does not seem attainable, set more realistic ones. Doing so doesn’t mean you’re a failure. It means you’re making strides to improve yourself and being realistic in the process. A slight change in perspective today could yield big results down the road. 

Receiving a Fresh Start

The holidays are hectic enough. However, for men suffering from mental illnesses or behavioral issues, the pressures of the holidays can magnify your struggles. If you or someone you know needs help, contact our team to learn more about our treatment programs. We devise solutions examining the root cause of the illness and work with you to find a more wholesome, positive outcome. The new year represents a fresh start to get on the road to recovery. 

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