Frequently Asked Questions by GVSU Students

Typically, if you are asking yourself if you have a problem or are wondering if you should seek treatment, then it’s probably time to talk with a professional about your situation. Seeking education and support doesn’t mean you “have to” follow the recommendations, it’s just giving you information so you are able to make the best decision for yourself.  Seeking consultation earlier can help prevent a situation from getting worse. To get started, utilize University resources including the AOD Services office and the University Counseling Center so you can decide the best route for you.

When we care about someone that has a substance abuse problem, our own behavior and emotional state can become negatively impacted in response to the situation.  We may start to develop the belief that we can’t talk about the reality of the situation, start to suppress feelings, and have a change in who or what we trust. Once you have a handle on your own well-being, you are better able to address the situation with the person facing substance abuse concerns.

Talk with someone who has knowledge on how to address the situation.  This will give you the needed clarity and support. You can consult with the AOD Services office or talk with a therapist. You can also go to a support group for family/friends such as Al-Anon or SMART Recovery for Family and Friends.  

Many people begin using substances for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, the reason is related to an underlying mental health concern like depression or anxiety. While initial use of substances may provide temporary relief, it is important to be careful. If there is an increase in tolerance (needing more for the same results) and an increase in frequency of use, the temporary relief is diminished and the impacts of substances may become hazardous. 

One may begin to experience withdrawal symptoms if they stop or reduce use. These withdraw symptoms can often lead people to believe that they need or should continue to use substances. An example of this would be use of marijuana to address stress. When a person decreases or discontinues marijuana (depending on their frequency), they may begin to experience withdraw symptoms including increased anxiety, panic attacks, and depression symptoms. Because of these symptoms, one may return to using and then experience relief. The relief is due to the person ending their “withdraw period” and not because the substance is addressing the concern.

It is important to explore the positive impacts of cutting back on use and learning effective coping skills to manage mental health and stress.  If a person desires to cut back to “responsible use” or stop completely and is unable to do so, it may be time to seek support or treatment for substance use or co-occurring disorders (both substance use and mental health).

A person struggling with a substance problem may avoid seeking help because of denial or fear.  The person using substances may be afraid they are unable to stop using, don’t know how they will function without substances, or believe they can’t be helped.  Active addiction can cause a person to have a distorted sense of reality because of the substance’s impact on the brain. This can lead to denial about there even being a problem about their use. The components of addiction are often complex and confusing; however, the solution can be simple and we are here to help.

If you have been unsuccessful on your attempts to cut back on, control or stop your substance use, it’s time to seek treatment.  Many will seek treatment when their substance use has negatively impacted their lives or the lives of those around them. These impacts may include legal and financial concerns, strained relationship, missing work or losing a job, poor academic performance or dismissal from school, emotional and physical health concerns, or inspiration from faith, spiritual, or other communities. It is important that one seek medical treatment if they are experiencing physical withdrawal symptoms.

There are an array of options when it comes to substance abuse treatment. These options are confidential and/or private.  There are a variety of levels to treatment and there is support available for determining what level of care is best for the person seeking treatment.

Options include any combination of the following:  information/education, support groups, individual therapy, group therapy, medication, and medical detox.  The settings may range from outpatient, inpatient, half-way houses, three-quarter houses, and other settings.  More intensive forms of therapy often include a combination of several of these options. The level of care is voluntary however there may be requirements for care that come from loved-ones or the legal system.

It varies and depends upon the type of support and treatment that is needed.  Some care is free and others may be thousands of dollars. There are support groups that are free and open to the public. Insurance will often cover part or all of the cost of treatment.  There are also community resources, state, and federal assistance programs that assist with financial costs. In the long run, the cost of treatment will typically be less than the cost of active addiction.

If you are a student at GVSU, there are several services available to you through the AOD Services office. Our office provides prevention and education programming, online resources, individual or group therapy (in conjunction with the University Counseling Center), recovery coaching, and consultation.  GVSU also provides space for support groups that are open to students, faculty, and staff. For more information, visit

Disposing of medication is not as simple as throwing it away or flushing it down the toilet. Both of these options can cause harm. Properly disposing of your unused medication protects people from drug abuse and overdose, and protects our precious waterways.

GVSU has two prescription drop-off boxes

Still have more questions?

Contact the AOD Office:

Phone: (616) 331-2537  

Email: [email protected] 

Office: 206 STU

Page last modified April 21, 2023