Oblivion: the sanctuary of modern students

On the road of life everyone is faced with challenges, most of which can be overcome. But for some, the trials of life can be too great to overcome, leaving drugs and alcohol as the only salvation. This rings particularly true for the current crop of college level students whose often laden workloads leave them yearning for some kind of respite from the daily grind.

Santa Monica College Student and former Betty Ford Hospital Patient Michelle Perez said that peer pressure was one of the contributing reasons for her introduction to heavier drug use. However, she says that drugs like alcohol and marijuana were not contributing factors to her addiction.

Perez explained that Marijuana was a normal sight in her house at a young age. "My dad had a medical [marijuana] card so pot was always around" she says, adding that alcohol and marijuana were not the reasons for her admission into rehab.

Perez was introduced to drugs like heroin and, soon after, crystal meth. Cocaine also came into play and it got to the point where her family felt they had to step in.

"My family and I all sat down to discuss my problem to figure out how to get the right team of people around me," Perez explained. "That is when they showed me the papers for the Betty Ford clinic."

Another SMC student, who requested to stay anonymous, is a former patient of the Clearview Treatment center in Venice and a current employee of the center. Most of the people they treat are alcoholics and, according to her, there are a variety of reasons someone of a young age will come to the center for treatment.

"Some of the patients have normal upbringings where there was no abuse or anything like that while others do go through that tough childhood, and it leads them to drinking," she said. "There are also people who just have that addictive personality who start drinking and let it get out of control."

She personally didn't start drinking until she went to college. "Being away from home and my parents was new to me," she says. "It led to drinking." That is when she moved out to California to go through rehab.

It has been about four and a half years since she has left the center as a patient. Since then she has worked in the center's outpatient program, which helps patients maintain their daily schedule while still recovering from their addiction.

"It's better than working around the people who are not as far along in treatment" she says in regards to working in the outpatient program. "They are more easy going."

She says that most of the younger patients that come through the program go back to school to places like Santa Monica College as a means of reconnecting with the outside world and easing their way back into a normal sober lifestyle.

SMC is currently working with Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services, a company that sends prevention specialists to campuses around the city to help counsel kids who are showing signs of addiction

Juan Gavidia and Jennifer Beckwith, who are substance abuse counselors with Didi Hirsch, travel around the city to council and speak to students about the dangers of drug abuse.

Most of the time they work at high schools with students who have been referred by the school staff but they also travel to campuses like SMC to inform the students of the services they offer.

"We work with adults as well as students," says Gavidia. "Analyzing addiction and educating our crowd is our goal on a campus like this."