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Co-Occurring Disorders in College Students – More Than Just a Phase?

college drinking problemsAccording to the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse: “More than 150,000 students develop an alcohol-related health problem [in college] and between 1.2 and 1.5 percent of students indicate that they tried to commit suicide within the past year due to drinking or drug use.” {Source: NIAAA.org}

For individuals experiencing any number of mental health disorders, from anxiety to depression to untreated bipolar or schizophrenia disorders, the college years can create a perfect storm of triggers that may lead a student into a spiral of alcohol or drug use, which in turn will exacerbate the underlying mental health issues.

College is typically the first time that a student lives away from family and childhood friends; those people who would notice a change in attitude or behavior and be able to pick up on immediate signs of change.  They may experience heightened anxiety or even depression from this change, or from the stress of classes, sports, or balancing of work, activities, and a full course-load. They may experience loneliness, insomnia, anxiety, and other stress-related issues that they may not want to share with others or seek help for. Adding to these triggers is the widespread drinking and drug use that is relatively easy to come by on campus, whether at parties or in dorm rooms; and this can be a recipe for disaster for students who may be at risk for dual disorders of mental illness and addiction.

If you or a loved one are in college and experiencing any of these issues, it may be helpful to seek the advice of a professional familiar with dual diagnosis treatment:

  • Loss of interest in activities, classes, or relationships.
  • Dissociation from friends & family.
  • Severe mood swings or long periods of depression or anxiety.
  • Extreme use of alcohol or drugs.
  • Lack of communication with family & friends.

The college years can be a difficult time even for students who have had no history of mental health or substance use disorders, and it’s important to pay attention to the signs of trouble before it’s too late.

Learn more about dual diagnosis treatment for college students, or contact us.

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