Saturday, February 15, 2014

Stress in College Students (First Reader)

This week’s readings included Chapter 15 and the article by Nesse. For this, my first, first reader, I am focusing on the book reading of chapter fifteen featuring addiction and how addiction is becoming more prevalent due to easier access to addictive substances (drugs and alcohol) and also a high stress environment, more related to psychosocial stressors.

This portion of the chapter reminded me a lot about the baboons in the stress movie we watched. In the beginning Dr. Sapolsky mentioned that due to them only having to expend around three hours a day to finding food, baboons were a perfect example of social stress, because they had ample time to bother each other, causing each other stress. This phenomenon is not one often seen in other animals, as they have to expend more energy and time to finding food sources, and escaping predators. Because of their large time they spend stressing each other out, baboons experience a large amount of social stress, similar to that of humans.

In chapter 15, Lende comments on addiction being a combination of availability and psychosocial stress. This is why people who have friends that use drugs often begin to use themselves, due to the increased availability and the need to keep these friends, probably due to a social situation that encourages friendship for survival (Lende 287). Lende focuses mostly on intercity environments, where high psychosocial stress is due to a violent environment, but I wonder, if a high violent environment would be one of the only situations that would create a “perfect storm” for addictive drug use.

Attending university is not (usually) a high violence stress situation, but it carries its own stressful situations. I think Lende’s ideas of the combination of availability and stress creating a dynamic that would inspire addiction would apply to college students as well. Many college students, especially freshman, have not experienced stress quite to this degree before, and may not know how to properly deal with it. In some situations, this may lead to drug use, both in legal and perhaps prescription drug abuse. This is sometimes seen in students, especially students experiencing problems with focus and ability to time-manage. This students might begin to use prescription drugs that are often used to treat ADHD, like Ritalin, in hopes that it will increase their focus and ability to get more work done. To combat this, universities may want to consider advising students to choose less stressful (though still successful/constructive) paths for a degree. Instead of taking on a double, or triple major, maybe spend more time focusing on one major more in-depth. This may lower the stress load and make students consider different methods of stress management (like exercise, which is already widely utilized by the student body) to deal with their anxieties and stresses. 

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