TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — When kids go off to college, it is the first time many of them are on their own.
Experts say the biggest danger to college-age students is drinking and drug use.
It is something that happens at almost every college or university in the country.
According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, four out of five college students drink alcohol. About half of the students who drink, binge drink.
“A lot of students think that because their parents aren’t there, or they have more freedom that this is the time to celebrate,” said Anna Pollard.
When it comes drugs on campus, the University of Tampa senior says she has seen it all.
“It is everywhere. I have seen everything I can think of I’ve seen,” she said.
Pollard says she never really drank before college. It was her junior year when things really started to get out of control.
“Drinking for me is progressive, and I think for a lot of people. It started as more to party and to fit in, and to make me feel like I had a place at school. But it turned into me wanting to drink to forget, forget what I was feeling,” said Pollard.
Pollard opened up to News Channel 8’s Amanda Ciavarri about her lowest times. She was assaulted twice, and had severe depression and anxiety.
“A lot of people my age didn’t realize I had a problem. Because I wasn’t using certain drugs, because I wasn’t drinking early in the morning or doing the ‘typical’ alcoholic stereotypes,” said Pollard.
Pollard says one night she was out at a bar drinking when something upset her. She started walking home, alone. What she didn’t know was her friend was following her.
“When she came home she saw me in the shower attempting suicide and looking her in the eye and saying I can’t do this anymore,” explained Pollard.
It was shortly after this that Pollard knew she had to get help. She credits the support of her friends and family for helping her find the right kind of help.
Today – she is almost a year sober. If you think sober-living while still in college sounds hard, Pollard explains there are communities to help if you look for them!
At the University of Tampa, it is called UTRC – University of Tampa Recovery Community.
“We meet on Friday’s and talk about how we are doing. It is an option to do instead of people doing other recovery techniques,” said Pollard.
Pollard decided to share her struggle with addiction hoping it will help someone else in a similar position.
“I think it is important for college kids to see this is a problem now. It can also be a problem after college. It doesn’t just stop after college,” she said.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office says peer pressure can often be a huge danger college students face. Deputies encourage parents to talk to their kids about this, at any age.
“It should be a continuous evolution, constantly have that conversation with your child, and remind them; ‘you are going to be faced with some decisions when you go to college, I hope you make the right decisions but call me, call your parents call a friend when you are faced with those peer pressure situations so we can help you through making the right decision,” said Jerry Carey, the Public Information Officer for Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.