A child’s life is full of exciting milestones that continue to build off each passing accomplishment. Once they graduate from middle school, the next transition in their lives is entering into high school. At this stage, changes are occurring in their bodies, and it is natural for their curiosity of adult activities to begin blossoming. They start understanding those jokes on TV, and the world around them starts to look different. Unfortunately, many in this stage also begin experimenting with drugs and alcohol.
While many children in high school will use drugs or alcohol, that doesn’t mean use will continue into college or their trades moving forward. Statistics listed in the link above show a significant decrease in drug and alcohol use in high-school students. While the statistics show a change, the numbers do not indicate a 100 percent decrease.
As mentioned above, while children may experiment with drugs or alcohol in college, that may be the extent of their use. The transition to college sparks excitement and fear in the recent high-school graduate, and there are many things to take into consideration about this milestone.
The considerations are often influenced by the experiences of parents, siblings, and peers. These sources will play an essential role in shaping the idea of what college will be like. Some nights will be spent writing terms papers, while others could be spent consuming “jungle juice” or playing drinking games. The new freedom for these young adults can lead to increased access to alcohol, illicit substances, and pharmaceutical drugs.
Alcohol use among college students far exceeds that of any other psychoactive substance. Studies showed that in 2014, 63 percent of college students consumed alcohol within the past 30 days. Another 35 percent of college students reported heavy drinking (more than five drinks in a row) in the past two weeks, and 43 percent reported being drunk in the past 30 days. Additionally, 13 percent said having 10 or more drinks in a row in the past two weeks, and 5 percent reported 15 or more drinks in the latter two rates of extreme binge drinking. These studies also showed that students who were reluctant to drink alcohol in high school were more likely to drink as college students. It begs the question, if a young adult needs treatment, how can we find the best options for them?
Illicit drug use was lower among college students than their non-college peers. The numbers reflected that 39 percent of college students used illegal drugs, whereas 44 percent of peers not in college used illicit substances. The most common drug used by college students, however, was marijuana at 34 percent. With a high prevalence of drug use by young adults, they sometimes find themselves requiring the services of a treatment center.
Various factors contribute to the misuse and abuse of drugs by teens. First-time use can occur in social settings with easily accessible substances such as alcohol and cigarettes. Prolonged use of drugs or alcohol may be the result of insecurities or a desire for social acceptance. Teens often feel inferior and have the feeling of being indestructible. They will not consider the consequences of their actions, and it can lead to them taking extreme risks.
Some of the most common risk factors for young adult drug abuse include:
Drug use among young adults can cause adverse consequences that can affect them for the rest of their lives. Unfortunately, as a young adult, they do not possess the same processing abilities that an adult brain has. An adult will evaluate a risky situation, and in most cases, decide against it. A young adult will be more willing because their minds have not developed enough to see the adverse outcomes of their actions.
Young adults still coming into their own may not be aware of how to deal with the stresses of these new responsibilities. Demanding jobs or internships is new territory for these young individuals, and conflicting school or work schedules increase the pressure to find an outlet to relieve the stress. Unfortunately, many of these young adults find their outlets in drugs or alcohol. With unique challenges young adults face, they require a customized approach to treatment that takes into account their age and relevant stresses. A middle-aged adult is going to need a different treatment approach than a young adult.
The foundation of addiction treatment, despite age, is medical detoxification that is followed by behavioral counseling. Behavioral health treatments help people with mental illnesses or substance use disorders. Counseling aims at changing behaviors, thoughts, emotions, and how people see and understand situations.
Medications for mental substance use disorders can offer relief to many people who are managing their symptoms. For young adults who are conflicted with their thoughts and transitioning into the rigors of adulthood, it can be a place where they can begin to understand what it takes to react to these new situations.
Each person who goes through treatment requires a different approach. We all have unique needs, and this means choosing the right therapies for their specific condition. Someone with alcohol use disorder is going to require a different approach from someone who has an Adderall addiction.
The brain continues to develop, grow, and change during young adulthood. Abusing drugs or alcohol during this stage can cause lasting harm to the brain by altering specific structures as the person matures. Evidence-based detox and residential treatment programs will take these potential brain development issues into account when treating treatment plans to help young adults.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach for treatment. The age of young adults will have to be taken into account when going through these programs. For some, they may benefit from residential treatment, and for others, they will be able to attend outpatient programs that let them practice the tools they’ve learned in treatment immediately. Each client will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
If you are a young adult or the parent of a young adult struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, it is imperative that you seek treatment immediately. These are the times where the brain is shaped for life, and making structural changes can have long-term effects. You must get help today.
If you are a young adult and struggle with a substance use disorder, it is imperative that you get the help you need before causing long-term damage. Addiction is a disease that can make someone lose everything, but fortunately, Serenity at Summit can help. Our staff is equipped to deal with young adults and tailor their level of care.
If you are struggling with addiction and need treatment, look no further. Our addiction specialists at Serenity at Summit are ready to help you today. Feel free to give us a call or contact us online to learn more.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (n.d.). Monitoring the Future Survey: High School and Youth Trends. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/monitoring-future-survey-high-school-youth-trends
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (n.d.). 4: Long-term effects of drug abuse. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/teaching-packets/power-science/section-ii/4-long-term-effects-drug-abuse
Teen drug abuse: Help your teen avoid drugs. (2019, January 12). Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/tween-and-teen-health/in-depth/teen-drug-abuse/art-20045921
Allison.bradbury. (2019, January 14). Behavioral Health Treatments and Services. Retrieved from https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/treatment