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Heavy drinking may be sign of bigger problem

College students, alcohol use, and personality disorders

The prevalence of alcohol abuse is a widely recognized problem on college campuses. There have been a number of efforts by government officials and college administrators to curb binge drinking among students. Studies show that as many as 43 percent of all college students report heavy drinking at some point in their college career, and about 20% doing so on a regular basis.

The consequences of excessive drinking range from the inconvenient to the fatal. A Harvard School of Public Health study in 2000 found that 60.5 percent of students had study or sleep interrupted by a drunken student, 13.6 percent had personal property damaged by a drunken student, and 9.5 percent had been pushed, hit, or assaulted.

Statistics gathered by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism indicate that about 600,000 students are unintentionally injured while under the influence every year. Almost 2,000 die in alcohol-related accidents. There are also correlations between alcohol abuse and assault, sexual abuse, unsafe sex, academic problems, vandalism, and both physical and psychological health problems.

According to a 2002 report, 31 percent of college students compulsively abuse alcohol, and 6 percent are dependent. Around 1.5 percent of students indicated that they tried to commit suicide in the past year due to drinking or drug use.

Recently, a researcher at Columbia University found that 20 percent of young adults have personality disorders, ranging from obsessive-compulsive disorder to schizophrenia. Experts claim that alcohol is often a crutch for emotional or personality problems, such as paranoid, schizoid, anti-social, narcissistic, and obsessive-compulsive tendencies.

Kim Dude, the director of the Wellness Resource Center at Missouri University, told NBC, “Sometimes that coping mechanism can become something that they depend on on a regular basis, so that can be, that’s what often leads to abuse.”

According to reports published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, roughly 50 percent of individuals with personality disorders are affected by substance abuse, and 37 percent of alcohol abusers suffer from some form of mental illness. Individuals with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder are four or five times more likely, respectively, to suffer from substance abuse than the general population.

Dude says the best solution for college students is to seek treatment as soon as possible.

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