College is great, but every new experience carries unfamiliar risks with it. Whether you’re living away from home for the first time, juggling a part-time job with full-time studies, partying every chance you get, or all the above, you could run into unexpected problems. Here are a few common risks to look out for.
It’s common for students to fall ill, especially when living in a dorm with many other people. In small quarters, one student’s sickness can travel quickly from one person to the next. You may also find your good health habits slipping; many students don’t get enough sleep or eat healthy meals. Combine this with general stress, and you become a living petri dish for hungry bacteria.
To avoid getting sick, take care of yourself and wash your hands often. Keeping your immune system strong helps your body fend off common viruses like the flu. However, you may still end up in an accident or contract a more serious illness. Prepare for the worst and find out what your school’s policy is for parental notification; some colleges won’t notify your family of a serious illness without your consent. If that’s the case for you, have a parent or other trusted person listed with the school as an emergency contact.
Attending college is a wonderful experience, but there are many stressors that can lead to depression, such as homesickness, financial issues, and relationship problems. There are many types of depression, and people can experience different symptoms; you may not even feel sad, but rather irritable or even apathetic about things you used to care about.
Most colleges provide free counseling for students. If you think you might have depression, contact your school’s health center. A trained professional can teach you coping strategies, discuss possible solutions, or just be there to lend an ear.
Alcohol and Drug Interactions
Partying is a great way to blow off steam, and alcohol won’t hurt you so long as you drink smart. Unfortunately, your prescription or over-the-counter medication might be deadly when combined with alcohol. It’s also possible for someone to slip a date-rape drug into your drink.
Protect your drink from being spiked. Depending on the type of drug used and the attacker’s intentions, you could be robbed or sexually assaulted. Worst case scenario, you could end up in a coma or dead. Stick with your friends, never leave your drink unattended, and know what warning signs to watch for.
Another problem that’s less talked about but equally dangerous is that certain medications interact with alcohol. The medication may increase the alcohol’s effect, or the alcohol may increase the risk of drug side effects such as dizziness, difficulty breathing, or internal bleeding. For example, mixing alcohol with acetaminophen, an OTC pain reliever, may cause liver damage. When taking medication, check the label to make sure you can safely take it while drinking.
The college lifestyle carries certain risks, but with a bit of foreknowledge and strategy, you can avoid at least some of them.