How Do You Handle Addiction Recovery as a College Athlete?

How Do You Handle Addiction Recovery as a College Athlete?

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Being a college athlete can create hardships in one’s life. This can often lead to students turning to alcohol or substances to cope with daily stressors or overwhelming feelings. When college athletes develop substance use disorders (SUDs), this can negatively impact their personal, school, and career lives. One’s college experience, opportunities, and career are directly affected by addiction.

It is important for college athletes to reach out, seek treatment, and recover from addiction in order to heal and create a prosperous personal and career life. Embarking on and committing to addiction recovery can greatly improve one’s overall quality of life. At First Steps Recovery, college athletes are important to and prioritized by our team and staff. We provide quality care to help these athletes create a healthy lifestyle at a young age.

College Athletes and Addiction

College athletes are more likely to use substances or alcohol than their peers, posing significant risks to their overall health and life quality. For instance, male student-athletes have higher rates of heavy drinking than other students, exceeding 50%.

During the off-season for college athletes, these rates increase. Other substances such as appetite suppressants are also common among college athletes. Abuse of these substances, which is more prevalent in women than men, can lead to major eating disorders. Steroids, though their use has decreased, are still used by student-athletes at a rate that’s more than triple that of students who are not athletes nationally.

Generally, a majority of student-athletes use substances, especially alcohol, in the NCAA divisions.

Addiction Recovery Options for College Athletes at First Steps Recovery

At First Steps Recovery, we treat our clients’ unique recovery and healing journeys on the individual level. We create personalized treatment plans to ensure the best, most effective care.

First Steps Recovery prioritizes long-lasting care. First, our staff helps clients, including college athletes, go through the detox process. Most college athletes struggling with substance or alcohol use disorders (AUD) typically go through the intensive outpatient program (IOP) at First Steps Recovery following detox.

The Detox Process

To overcome alcohol or substance dependency, high-quality detox programs are necessary. The physiological dependency is addressed through therapy and sometimes medications. The detox process works to cleanse the body of chemical substances or toxins to return the individual to a healthy physical state.

Detox often includes withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms typically peak after two to three days and subside after a week. Therapy and treatment at First Steps Recovery help clients continue their abstinence during these withdrawal symptoms by working to ease the symptoms. This helps our clients better devote themselves to the recovery process. The following withdrawal symptoms may be experienced:

  • Sweating
  • Cold flashes or chills
  • Uneasiness or anxiety
  • Shaking or trembling
  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Emotional volatility
  • Hallucinations

Upon arrival, clients are supervised and monitored during the detox process in order to create a safe and secure environment. Some medications may also be monitored to help clients relax, sleep, or treat other specific symptoms related to mood and emotion. Clients are invited to continue socializing and taking advantage of the facility once withdrawal symptoms subside. A calming environment is provided to clients throughout the whole process to ensure a smooth and comfortable recovery.

Intensive Outpatient Treatment

An IOP provides quality care to clients without disrupting their daily lives. This care is perfect for those who cannot disrupt their work or school schedules. IOP is the best program for college athletes as they are able to continue with their daily lives while also actively taking part in recovery. All therapies and amenities offered in inpatient programs are available to those in IOP as well. For example, psychotherapy, group sessions, and holistic care such as art therapy and music therapy are offered to clients in an IOP.

It is important to take advantage of one’s care team while in an IOP. Many challenges can present themselves when college athletes return to an environment where alcohol and substances are present and available. Staying in touch and being an active participant in IOPs is important for promoting abstinence. The staff works to help clients cope with daily life even in the early stages of recovery, promoting healthy coping mechanisms and ways to resist temptation.

Support From Alumni for College Athletes

First Steps Recovery is connected to many businesses and colleges. Athletes at Fresno State are connected to alumni who have gone through the recovery process with First Steps Recovery. This alumni support is important for college athletes in building a supportive community and environment. Having this system also helps clients physically see a healthy and happy lifestyle not controlled by alcohol or substances.

That support system combined with an IOP works to promote a positive lifestyle without the stress of transitioning back to one’s normal, daily routines. Alumni also help clients focus on their education, participating in healthy hobbies, and finding potential jobs.

First Steps Recovery offers care to student-athletes in college who experience addiction. Our detox process and intensive outpatient program (IOP) are available for everyone. The detox process helps cleanse the physical body. Since this is a tasking process that includes withdrawal symptoms, the detox process is closely observed and monitored. After detoxification, the IOP offers therapies and treatments that clients can take advantage of while doing their normal routine. This is important for college athletes who have both academic and athletic responsibilities. The staff and alumni create a supportive environment for these student-athletes to help them foster a positive and happy lifestyle. To learn more about college athletes at First Steps Recovery, please call (844) 489-0836.

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