COVID-19 has undoubtedly been an extremely stressful time for all Americans. But it has been especially hard on the 20-somethings and college students across the country; creating intense disruptions to their academic and social lives. New research shared from VICE.com has gone so far to say that this drastic lifestyle change has led to a spike in addictions; particularly on and around university campuses.
According to the VICE data, 60 percent of students aged 18-24 have said that their mental health has suffered since the pandemic began. And of that set, 20 percent admitted to turning to substances as a coping mechanism. This has actually led to a big spike in college campus counseling services, where many students are turning to as a form of recovery.
Several young people who were interviewed for the VICE piece spoke openly about drugs and alcohol. Many turned to these substances as a way to escape their loneliness and grief surrounding COVID-19.
“Being alone was the most dangerous time in my first year,” one anonymous student said. “During COVID-19, it definitely got to be excruciating… When you take the substance away, you have to sit with yourself and the life that you have, so it’s really dangerous for people to not have someone else to reach out to.”
To help cope with these issues, many colleges across the country are putting a stronger emphasis on recovery counseling. Services like this have most certainly been available in the past, but now it appears as though the need is much greater.
VICE singled out Brown University as a trailblazer in this category, having been one of the first major schools to establish a recovery support group back in 1977. Since then, over 130 schools have initiated similar programs. Up in Canada, the University of British Columbia was called out for taking swift steps over the past 12 months. Their UBC Student Recovery Community now boasts nearly 100 members and stays very active via meetings and virtual chats.
VICE was quick to praise UBC’s efforts, highlighting even more work they hope to do in the coming months as COVID-19 quarantines die down. Future efforts will include in-person recovery conversations and a program that would involve university alumni who have struggled and beaten their addictions.
“Just having that group of supportive people really helps students’ ability to get the most out of (school),” Meagan Park, a UBC administrative rep, told the site. “Most people know somebody who’s been touched by addiction. And if someone’s willing to champion that cause, then there’s growth.”