College can a bring a whole load of new experiences and you may want to dive in head first to all of them. There are things that you should be aware of though, for your own safety and wellbeing.
Focus on alcohol
Know your limits
Drugs at college
Informed lifestyle choices
This post originally appeared on Campus.ie as: Alcohol & Drugs: The Importance of Knowing Your Limits
Recreational drugs have the ability to affect our mood for longer than the initial high. Known as psychoactive drugs, they include well-known examples such as ecstasy, cannabis, magic mushrooms, heroin and even alcohol.
As they can stir up emotions and dampen others, these drugs may trigger mental health problems. Anxiety, depression, mood swings, sleep problems and psychosis can all be brought on by psychoactive substances.
Anxiety – periods of severe anxiety or panic attacks can occur. A person’s heart rate increases, they can sweat, have shortness of breath, trembling and panic over losing control.
Sometimes people feel their surroundings are strange or unreal. They can feel they’re losing their sense of reality and their personal identity.
Drug-induced psychosis – psychoactive drugs can cause delusions and hallucinations.
Mood disorders – at times being depressed, maybe feeling sad, tired, restless and irritable. Then at other times feeling manic, being in an elevated mood or having racing thoughts, delusions and being impulsive.
This swinging between high and low could be a mood disorder. It can be caused by many drugs including cocaine, heroin, amphetamines and methadone.
Long-term effects on mental health
Psychoactive drugs can cause ongoing mental health problems. It’s not clear why it happens to some of us and not others. It might be that using a drug triggers an underlying mental health problem.
Cannabis for example, has been linked to schizophrenia, although it’s a difficult link to prove. If you have a pre-existing risk for schizophrenia (which most people at risk are unaware of), there’s a much higher chance that using cannabis will trigger a schizophrenic episode.
These risks are believed to be greater in younger people and those who smoke it more regularly.
A dual diagnosis is a term used when people have two separate conditions – a drug addiction and a mental health problem.
When dealing with both a mental health problem and an addiction it’s hard to know where one ends and the other begins.
It’s often not clear which problem came first. For example people going through a tough time may use drugs to cope. This can often lead to more problems.
Using illegal drugs to deal with mental health problems can interfere with a person’s recovery. If they’re taking prescribed medication then other substances could interfere with this.
When talking to a health professional about your mental health, it’s important to tell them if you’re taking any recreational drugs.
If you’re going through a tough time and are finding it hard to cope, or if you’re struggling to overcome a drugs addiction, visit our face-to-face help section and our minding your mental health section.
If possible get support from family and friends – it’s hard to do it without them.
You can visit your GP who will be able to help. If you don’t have a GP, you can find one at www.icgp.ie.
There are many local, regional and national services you can contact for help. You can find listings at http://drugs.ie/services/ .
The HSE Drugs Helpline can be reached on freephone 1800 459 459, Monday to Friday, from 10am to 5pm. They offer support, information, guidance and referral to anyone with a question or concern related to drug and alcohol use. All calls are confidential.
Content on drugs and mental health adapted from Drugs.ie
The folks from drugs.ie have given us an outline of this year’s media awards.
The ‘Let’s Talk about Drugs Media Awards’ provides an opportunity for young people to investigate and explore the following topics: ‘Alcohol and sport – who is the real winner?’ and ‘Weed and health – are we making a hash of it?’
The aim of the awards is to encourage public discussion of drug-related issues by inviting secondary school students and aspiring journalists to create a feature about drugs. While this competition targets students, it is open to all over the age of twelve. Entry categories are newspaper article, video feature, audio feature, poster design, and cartoon strip.
This year’s topics focus on alcohol and weed – more specifically – alcohol and sport and weed and health. What can be said about these topics from a youth mental health perspective?
Is cannabis consumption among young people contributing to mental health issues – or is this an overstated link? Is sponsorship of sporting events leading more young people to drink or to drink to excessive levels – should we care?
Whatever your thoughts on these topics, get creative and turn them into a winning entry! You could be in with a chance to win one of more than twenty Android tablets or €1,000, and have your work published or broadcast.
Enter Get your entry in by the deadline on Friday, 31 May 2013. For more information and tips on entering go to www.drugs.ie/awards.
It’s not uncommon for people to experiment with alcohol when they’re young. It’s important to know about the effects of alcohol and drugs to keep yourself safe and well.
If you’re having a problem with drugs or alcohol and need some help, there are centres and services around the country there to support you.
Getting help is really a brave and positive thing to do.
Where to go for drugs and alcohol counselling
Addiction counsellors are generally accessible within community mental health teams, but you will usually need to be referred by a GP or another member of the mental health team.
Contact the Health Service Executive to locate the service in your area, or go to drugs.ie for information, counselling and live support through an online chat and information service. You can also freephone their helpline on 1800 459 459.
For more information on people to talk to, check out the rest of face-to-face help.