Resource Page for Students at the University of Denver

In 2014, there were around 12.4 million college students between the ages of 15 and 24. 31.9% of college students surveyed by report a binge drinking episode (five or more drinks in a row) during the past two weeks, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. 38.4% of those surveyed have reached the point of alcohol intoxication in the past month.

College is well-known for it's raging parties and underage drinking, but the hard data confirms that over 1 in 3 college students partake in regular heavy alcohol consumption. Fraternity and sorority parties are notorious for the excessive alcohol consumption. Even students who throw kickback parties often drink beyond the social point.

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Drugs are commonplace among college students as well. Of all illicit substances, marijuana is the most regularly used, with 4.6% of students using marijuana daily.

Since these are nationwide statistics, the rate of marijuana use in Colorado specifically is likely much higher. Due to recent legalization, weed consumption among students at the University of Denver has become much more common and accessible, resulting in higher usage rates.

Additionally, 4.3% of college students have used cocaine in the past year. Although not as prevalent as marijuana, past-year cocaine use has almost doubled since 2013. Another commonly used drug among college students is prescription amphetamines such as Adderall or Ritalin. Full-time college students ages 18 to 22 are twice as likely to misuse prescription amphetamines compared to non-college students in the same age range.

Most people commonly refer to college as the "best years of your life." However, are they the best years of your life if you're struggling with a substance dependence problem? There is a fine line between having a few too many on one occasion and substance abuse. The line often blurs for college students as heavy drinking is seen as acceptable.

Are you a student at the University of Denver and wondering whether you have a problem with your alcohol and drug consumption? Are you looking for resources to help you learn more about alcohol and drug abuse? Are you actively aware of a substance abuse problem and looking for more information?

We gathered resources for University of Denver students to learn more about and receive help for their substance abuse. Getting sober in college can feel like an incredibly isolating experience, especially with such high rates of alcohol and drug use. However, as more people learn about substance abuse, greater numbers of young people are seeking help for their addictions.

Read on to find out more information regarding substance abuse and mental health resources for students at the University of Denver.

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The Role of Mental Health in Substance Dependence and Abuse

When discussing substance abuse it is important to also consider mental health. Mental illnesses and mental health disorders are common among those with substance use disorders. Over 1 out of every 3 people with a substance use disorder also have a mental illness. The presence of both a substance use disorder and a mental illness or mental health disorder is referred to as a co-occurring disorder, also called dual diagnosis.

When seeking help for a substance abuse problem at the University of Denver, it is important to also consider the possible existence of a mental illness or mental health disorder. Substance abuse is common among those with mental illness who don't seek treatment. When the symptoms of the mental illness become too much to handle, they turn to self-medicating with drugs and alcohol.

The substances dull the symptoms of the mental illness for a while but will eventually increase their severity. As the symptoms worsen, the person uses more substances to cover them up again.

This creates a vicious cycle of intensified symptoms and increased substance dependence. Eventually they develop a co-occurring disorder or dual diagnosis.

If you feel you are living with a co-occurring disorder, seeking treatment is important. You should not try to manage either your substance abuse or your mental illness on your own. When you receive help from a certified professional, they can develop a treatment plan for you to address both parts of your dual diagnosis.

As the rates of dual diagnoses increase, more facilities have equipped themselves to treat these cases properly. Some facilities specialize in dual diagnosis while others include the treatment of co-occurring disorders in their programming. Receiving specialized care is not always necessary but you should first consult with your doctor to determine what is best for you and your situation.

There is a line between social drinking and problem drinking. Oftentimes drug use can progress into problem drug use. Some people are capable of using substances sparingly and without issue or repercussion. However, if you believe your substance use progressed past normal use and into the dependence category, you may need assistance.

The Fifth Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM 5) outlines 11 criteria for substance abuse, referred to in medical terms as a substance use disorder. Quickly ask yourself the following questions based on those criteria to see if you exhibit signs of a substance use disorder. Although it may be difficult, do your best to answer them honestly.

  • Do you use substances or drink for longer periods of time or in greater amounts than you originally intended to?
  • Do you want to slow down or stop your use but find yourself unable to?
  • Do you spend significant amounts of time finding or buying drugs or alcohol?
  • Do you experience a craving for drugs or alcohol?
  • Are you having troubles with your performance or attendance at school, work, home, or any combination of the three?
  • Do you experience any repercussions or consequences as a result of your drinking or using, yet continue to drink or use despite them?
  • Have you cut back on social or recreational activities in order to drink or use drugs? Or do you need drugs or alcohol in order to enjoy social or recreational activities?
  • Does your drinking or drug use put you into harmful or dangerous situations?
  • Are you experiencing physical or psychological challenges as a result of your drinking or drug use?
  • Have you developed a tolerance to drugs or alcohol? Do you need to drink or use more in order to achieve the desired effect?
  • Do you experience any withdrawal symptoms when you are not using drugs or drinking alcohol?

The DSM 5 categorizes substance use disorders in three stages: mild, moderate, and severe. The severity of your substance use disorder depends on the number of criteria you meet:

  • 2-3 criteria: Mild Substance Use Disorder
  • 4-5 criteria: Moderate Substance Use Disorder
  • 6-7 criteria: Severe Substance Use Disorder

While you can roughly categorize yourself, it is best to seek the help of a mental health professional, particularly one who specializes in substance dependence. They can help you themselves or send you in the direction of a facility equipped to handle your situation.

If you are completely honest with yourself, it is often easy to tell whether you have a problem with drugs or alcohol. Doctors can diagnose you with a substance use disorder but only you can decide for yourself whether you are an addict or alcoholic.

Skipping classes, slipping grades, and missing social engagements with friends are common signs of an alcohol or drug problem for University of Denver students. Addiction and alcoholism can quickly spiral out of control. Seeking help early on while you are still in college will be the best decision you make in your life.

Wasting the best years of your life in a haze of drug- and alcohol-induced fog is not enjoyable. Don't look back when you're in your 40s, still struggling with substance abuse, and wish you had done something 20 years earlier. Make the decision today to do something about your drug or alcohol use.

The most common type of mood disorders are anxiety disorders, followed closely by depressive disorders. Do you feel you may have a mental health disorder? Mental illness is best diagnosed by a mental health professional due to the specificities of each disorder.

The DSM 5 defines mental disorders as a "syndrome characterized by clinically significant disturbance in an individual's cognition, emotion regulation, or behavior that reflects a dysfunction in the psychological, biological, or developmental processes underlying mental functioning." Those with mental health disorders often experience difficulties or distress in social situations or their job.

Although most mental illness cannot be cured, their symptoms can be managed through therapy and medication. When you couple mental health disorders with substance abuse, the need for a solution doubles. Seeking help from one of the resources listed in this guide will help you take steps towards a healthier, happier life. Do yourself the favor. You deserve a life free from the chains and bondage of your mental illness.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Resources for Students at University of Denver

The University of Denver offers counseling services to students with various types of mental health concerns. Whether it is crisis management, a long-term mental health disorder, or substance abuse, the counseling office offers services to students in need.

The Health and Counseling center at the University of Denver offers a wide range of treatment options for students struggling with substance abuse. The center offers both voluntary and mandated programming, depending on the situation of each student.

As a student at the University of Denver, you pay for a Health and Counseling Fee each quarter you are enrolled.

In addition to the Health and Counseling Fee, you must have insurance either through the Student Health Insurance Plan or alternate insurance. With both of these coverages, many of the services available in the Health and Counseling center are covered.

Keep in mind that if you have alternate insurance instead of the Student Health Insurance Plan, some services may require a $15 co-pay.

The Center is open year-round on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM and on Tuesdays from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. On most Wednesdays and Thursdays during the academic school year, the Center is open from 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM.

If you need immediate information about the services offered at the Health and Counseling Center or have any additional questions, you can reach their office by phone at (303) 871-2205.

Resources Available to You:

The Health and Counseling Center at the University of Denver offers 10 individual counseling sessions per academic school year. Their approach is short-term treatment intended to get you back on your feet quickly.

However, the therapists understand you may need additional assistance from the camps. If this is the case, the Solutions and Strategies Support Group is available Friday afternoons from 2:30 to 4:00 PM. During the group, participants discuss issues and struggles with substance dependence and abuse. Discussions surrounding the cutting back on or eliminating the use of substances entirely take place. Sessions for the Solutions and Strategies Support Group cost $50.

Some disciplinary measures for intoxication on drugs or alcohol may include mandated counseling sessions. These sessions do cost money but are aimed to address and educate students on substance dependence and abuse. Depending on the discipline assigned, there are multiple types of mandated substance abuse counseling.

One-on-one Counseling Sessions

During one-on-one counseling, you will meet individually with a therapist to discuss an individualized treatment plan. During your sessions you will work out how best to meet your needs and how to control or eliminate your substance use. Individual counseling sessions cost $50 for each visit.

A BASICS assessment takes place over the course of two separate 50 minute appointments with a counselor. During BASICS, the counselor gathers information regarding your individual case and requests that you track your drinking over the course of a week. Additionally, you will provide written feedback from the information obtained during your sessions. The cost of the BASICS assessment is $105 total.

CASICS assessment is similar to BASICS assessment but addresses marijuana use. You receive two 50 minute assessments with a counselor as well as a marijuana use tracking assignment. At the end of the course you provide written feedback regarding what you learned during the assessments. CASICS assessment costs $105 total.

e-CHUG is an online educational course that provides information on alcohol abuse to students. You must complete the online e-CHUG course before attending your individual counseling session to discuss the results. The session lasts 50 minutes and takes place with an Alcohol & Other Drug educator where you will discuss your alcohol intake and how to proceed. e-CHUG and an individual counseling session costs $50.

e-TOKE is similar to e-CHUG but addresses marijuana use. You are required to complete the online e-TOKE educational course before attending your 50 minute counseling session. The session also takes place with an Alcohol & Other Drug educator where you will discuss your marijuana use and whether or not it is helpful or harmful. e-TOKE and the individual counseling session cost $50.

A variety of workshops are available on both a voluntary and mandated basis to address various facets of substance dependence and abuse. These workshops help you address and assess your substance use as well as the root causes and conditions of why you drink or use drugs. Each workshop costs $50.

This workshop educates students on substance use as well as the continuum from abstinence to addiction. The workshop addresses how substance dependence develops, the risk factors involved in becoming addicted, as well as how to manage the risk of substance use.

This workshop addresses the influence of family dynamics on your substance use. Addiction and alcoholism often run in families and the Family Dynamics Workshop discusses that pattern. During the workshop, you will discuss the different roles children adopt when growing up in a household with active addiction, the risk factors involved in developing addiction, and how to intervene with drug- or alcohol-bddicted family members.

The Health and Counseling Center understands the pressures to drink and use drugs while in college. During the Emotional Coping Workshop, counselors provide information on how to address high pressure situations involving drugs and alcohol. You will learn how to communicate effectively, manage your stress and anger, and deal with peer pressure.

Resources for Substance Abuse and Mental Health Surrounding the University of Denver

Denver offers many community resources for those struggling with substance dependence and abuse. Various services are available surrounding the University of Denver if you prefer to work on your substance abuse off-campus. Many of the resources available are teen-centric, intended to help young people avoid the use of drugs and alcohol.

If you have some amount of time clean and sober, you might find it beneficial or helpful to volunteer with one of the following organizations.

Denver Resources for Awareness and Prevention (DenverRAP) focuses on the prevention of substance use and abuse in teenagers. It was created in 2011 by the Denver Office of Drug Strategy to help young people avoid drug and alcohol use. If you are a freshman or sophomore at the University of Denver, you can find a community of sober-minded individuals at DenverRAP.

The DenverRAP center offers a full calendar of free activities, such as yoga, hiking, visits to the museum, and educational activities. The center aims to provide safe, clean, and sober fun for young people in the Denver and surrounding areas.

To find out more about DenverRAP and the services they offer, you can reach them by phone at (720) 944-2825.

Rise Above Colorado is another teen-focused drug and alcohol abuse prevention organization. Their mission is to keep adolescents and young adults from turning to drugs and alcohol through education and information. Rise Above Colorado places emphasis on the impact of methamphetamines, marijuana, and prescription drugs.

Rise Above Colorado also works with schools to bring in educational programs. The Teen Action Council helps their peers avoid drugs and alcohol by providing outreach and educational activities in the community.

To find out additional information about Rise Above Colorado and how to get involved with substance abuse education advocacy, email amy@riseaboveco.org.

AspenRidge Recovery Intensive Outpatient Program

AspenRidge Recovery provides an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) in Southwest Denver. The IOP program at AspenRidge Recovery is perfect for students at the University of Denver dealing with substance dependence and abuse. IOP takes place on weekdays from 4:30 to 7:30 PM. The amount of times you attend per week is determined during your initial assessment.

IOP at AspenRidge Recovery includes both individual counseling and group therapy sessions. The goal of IOP is to teach you how to function in life as a clean and sober member of society.

Through treatment you will develop the relapse prevention, trigger management, and coping skills necessary to achieve long-term sobriety.

You will participate in educational lectures and interactive session. During individual counseling and group therapy, you will dig deep into the origins of your addiction. You receive the opportunity to process your life history from childhood until the moment you walk through the door. By identifying past stressors, you can work through them so they no longer hold such a heavy impact on your life.

During IOP you will develop close relationships with your group and friendships with your peers. Each of you aim for the same goal: sobriety and clean time. Meeting like minded people helps make recovery easier to handle.

Getting Sober at the University of Denver

It may feel like getting sober during college would be one of the most boring things to possibly do. However, if you have a substance use disorder, there is likely nothing fun about your drug or alcohol use. Why not try something new?

You may find that getting clean and sober at the University of Denver was the best decision you ever made. You can experience the beauty of Colorado with a clear head and sharp mind. Rock climb, mountain bike, snowboard, ski. Read, write, visit local shows. There are countless things to do while sober, even though it may not seem like it.

As you learn to live life without the crutch of drugs and alcohol, though, you will realize how much you have been missing. Give yourself the chance to try out a new way of life. Your future self will be grateful you did.

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