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School-Induced Stress and Addiction

School-Induced Stress and AddictionStress has a significant influence on an individual’s vulnerability to substance abuse. While some people are able to have healthy responses to stress, those who face consistent school-related pressure and anxiety may be unable to deal with the stress without turning to drugs to help them get through it.

Perception of teen or young adult drug use is often limited to the social aspects. Many think of peer pressure, passion for partying, rebellion, and the thrill of getting high as the prominent motivations for abusing drugs. However, teens and young adults these days face more pressure than ever to succeed academically and still maintain healthy social lives. The demands of school have become more rigorous, with less promise of real world success following graduation. The burden of academic stress is as much a cause of substance abuse as the need to fit in and the desire to have fun.

How Academic Stress Leads to Addiction in High School and College Students 

High school and college students face various pressures that can cause them to feel overwhelmed. Some may take prescription stimulants, such as Ritalin or Adderall, in order to perform well on tests and heighten energy levels. Others may use party drugs and alcohol to loosen up and take advantage of any chance they have to escape the rigorous demands. Still others may experience anxiety and panic attacks resulting from the chronic stress and indulge in addictive antianxiety medications.

Some specific causes of academic stress that can lead to drug abuse include the following:

  • Exams – The acute pressures of upcoming exams can lead students to abuse stimulants that will enable them to study long hours without feeling fatigued and experience mental acuity for the duration of the exam. Drugs intended to treat attention and sleep disorders, including Ritalin and Adderall, are prevalent on college campuses.
  • Parent’s expectations – Both in high school and college, parents’ expectations can place excessive pressure on students. Because society already places many demands on students for achieving a definition of success that includes standing out both socially and academically, parents’ responses of disappointment or discipline when their children do not succeed as they hoped can lead to rebellion or a sense of failure resulting in depression.
  • Important decisions about the future – The urgent and daily pressures of achieving current academic success are also underscored by deeper anxieties and expectations having to do with the future. High school students have to not only succeed in ways that will make them attractive to colleges, but also decide which college is the best fit for them. College students have to worry about earning the credentials and making the connections that will lead to getting the jobs they desire and succeeding in those jobs. Meanwhile, they could be using drugs to escape from the stress without realizing that decision will play into their futures as much as decisions about schools and careers.

Regardless of the cause of stress, students must learn to cope with stress in a healthy way, rather than turning to drugs or alcohol.

Help for Drug Addiction and Underlying Stress

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, please call our toll-free helpline to speak with an admissions coordinator about your professional treatment options. We are available 24 hours a day to help you get the comprehensive treatment you deserve that will get you back on the right track. Don’t wait. Please call today.