Drug rehab as a student?

Dear Alice,

I'm a drug user and a student at college. I was wondering, what avenues do schools provide for rehabilitation of drug users? I've heard that free counseling and other services exist at my school, but I'm still in the dark regarding this issue as well as many of the other services that my school may or may not provide. What do I do and where can I go?

Dear Reader,

Whatever the reason that has led you to reconsider your habits, you’ve taken the first step toward changing behavior: Identifying what it is you want to change. That is an accomplishment—well done. There are numerous options for support and determining the most effective combination of services for you is something that will likely take trial and error, especially as each school and locality will have different resources to support students.

Your primary care provider is a great resource, especially for examining how your substance use may be impacting your general health. They're also a convenient choice as they have met you before and already have a sense of your overall condition. Your general practitioner can also refer you to specialist, a process which can be required by insurance companies before they will cover the cost of treatment. If you haven't met with a primary care provider before, setting up that meeting can be a great first start. 

The counseling center on campus can provide guidance on emotional and relational levels. Mental health professionals who specialize in substance use can help to equip you with a variety of strategies that are tailored to your individual needs. Some examples of the types of support available include: exploratory counseling to better understand why substance use has become a coping mechanism, learning alternative coping strategies, distress tolerance, and working through and healing interpersonal relationships that have been damaged by substance use.

Depending on your school’s policies there may be fees and charges associated with these types of services which can be a barrier to accessing care. Non-profit providers in your area can be a resource for these services at no or low cost. Your local government’s webpage may have a list of service providers compiled already. You may also want to check with your school’s counseling center to find out if they have established relationships with any organizations in the area. If none of these provide options that may be helpful, the FindTreatment.gov website can also help you find providers that may be in your area. They even allow you to filter by payment options, along with other categories so you can find a provider who may suit your needs. 

Recovery communities, community-led organizations that prioritize long-term recovery and don't hold any stakes in the monetization of addiction treatment services, are also an option. They focus on providing accessible education, advocating for policies that encourage recovery, and facilitating peer-support programming. They don't focus on any singular pathway to recovery and help people to access whichever framework makes the most sense for the individual.   

Best wishes,

Last updated Nov 18, 2022
Originally published Sep 05, 2008