Battling addiction can be very lonely, and doing it while being away from all that is familiar only makes it harder. This is why it’s so important to utilise the resources you have available to you at university to make living with addiction possible. Ray Sadoun, a London-based mental health and addiction recovery specialist and having been in the industry for more than fifteen years, provides five top tips for battling addiction as a university student.
Seek professional help
First and foremost, the most important thing to do is to seek professional help. Usually, the best way to go about this is to contact your GP and ask to be referred to mental health services. Unfortunately, the waiting lists are often very long, so if you can afford to go private, this is a good option. Alternatively, while you wait for your referral, your GP may provide you with information about addiction and anonymous counselling websites where you can talk through your issues with someone.
Utilise your university’s mental health services
Depending on the university you go to, you may be able to access high-quality mental health services. At some universities, you get immediate access to free counselling, so you won’t have to wait on the NHS while you are struggling. As well as counselling, many universities have websites with information about addiction and tips for dealing with this while you are at university.
Reach out to other students in the same position
Some universities will have groups you can attend where you share your struggles with students in a similar position. However, if this is not something offered by your university, take matters into your own hands and find your community yourself. This could be something you arrange in person, or if you don’t feel comfortable doing this, simply get involved with forums such as StudentRoom and find students who are also dealing with addiction.
Don’t be too hard on yourself
Battling addiction while at university is extremely difficult, and it is bound to impact your studies. As important as your education may be, your health is the number one priority, so don’t be too hard on yourself if your grades are slipping while you are trying to keep your head above water. In many cases, it is best to delay university while you focus on getting better.
Surround yourself with the right people
Finally, it is no good if you are spending time with people who are encouraging your addiction. For example, perhaps you have an alcohol addiction and your friends are binge drinking every weekend and pressuring you to join them. In this type of situation, you need to set clear boundaries and inform them of the severity of your addiction. If they do not respect this, or you cannot live with them binge drinking even if they don’t involve you, find other friends who do not engage in these behaviours.