Young Adults and Co-Occurring Disorders
The stage of young adulthood, spanning from ages 18 – 26, is a period of exploration for self-identity, independence, adaption to new social environments, academic achievements and professional growth. Although this transitional period can be an exciting and positive time for development; it creates plenty of expectations that can be challenging for a new young adult to navigate. Young adults transitioning to college have a rise in social and academic pressures that can increase risks for developing mental health and substance use disorders. It is our goal to normalize the difficulty that this transition can pose to a young adult and provide support with outpatient services to help assist in managing mental health and substance use disorders.
The American Society of Addiction Medicine have found that there is a significant prevalence between substance related disorders and mental health with 50% of young adults diagnosed with a substance use disorder to have at least 1 co-occurring psychiatric disorder. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the most common psychiatric disorders seen with substance use disorders are anxiety and mood disorders, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, ADHD, and PTSD. The Mayo Clinic and American Addiction Centers identify several risk factors and symptoms that are related to the development of co-occurring disorders.
Environmental and Genetic Risk Factors:
– Less structure and supervision in a college setting
– Increase levels of stress related to academic and social pressures
– Increase accessibility to drugs and alcohol
– Poor academic performance
– Normalization of alcohol and illicit substance use in the college setting
– Family history of mental health and substance use disorders
Signs and Symptoms:
– Change in behaviors: Irritability, isolation from friends and family, not engaging in once pleasurable activities, difficulties at work
– Decline in school performance and grades
– Memory loss and difficulty with concentration
– Physical Health Issues: Weight loss or gain, sleep disturbances, lack of energy, restlessness
– Decline in self-care or personal appearance
Co-occurring disorders left untreated can create short- and long-term consequences for an individual. These consequences can include decline in academics, legal involvement, health concerns, increase risk of assaults, and high probability of unemployment after graduation. However, providing early treatment interventions can significantly help reduce the development of unhealthy coping strategies, reduce the risk of harmful use of alcohol and illicit substances, and help individuals manage early onset of symptoms.
At CRG, we are looking to be an additional support to our college campuses, students, and families to help reduce the rising statistics among our young adult population. Our approach focuses on individualized treatment that best fits the client’s needs and helps them develop healthier strategies to manage the challenges related to this transitional period. Our team is able to utilize an integrated treatment approach of both therapeutic services and medication management to optimize the client’s level of functioning.
National Library of Medicine: Principles of Care for Young Adults With Co-Occurring Psychiatric and Substance Use Disorders
American Addiction Centers
National Library of Medicine: Substance Use Among College Students