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This opinion article Valium and the New Normal by Robin Marantz Henig is must reading for all college health professionals and therapists to stimulate discussion among us about what we have done in the past in our prescribing habits and what we continue to do.

We need to be serious in our self-examination of how we respond therapeutically to our student-patients’ challenges and anxieties.   If  “normal” is a prescription-medicated state for over 25% of our patient population (far higher if considering the number on daily synthetic hormones), in addition to those who self-medicate regularly with recreational substances, what are we actually accomplishing in helping prepare students for their lives outside the ivory tower?  That all solutions are found in a bottle of one sort or another?

The sought-for “normal,” in otherwise healthy individuals, has become a quest to quash unpleasant feelings and emotions.  Is that really what we want to accomplish with our patients? Or should we be helping them learn (after all, they are in college to learn) the art of resiliency and coping?

As a wise relative would say to me when I felt I couldn’t handle yet another stress while I was in school:  “this too shall pass.”

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