If a friend or family member suspects a loved one is experimenting with drugs and alcohol, it is important to understand the nature of developing addiction and how to identify the symptoms.
Drug and alcohol abuse is a destructive habit that not only negatively impacts the individual physically, mentally and emotionally, but also those around them. In many cases, those struggling with addiction are unable to recognize the damage their addiction has inflicted on themselves or those around them and requires intervention in order to provide them with the treatment they need. For parents, friends, teachers and others, it is important to understand the warning signs of a developing substance abuse problem by understanding what substances are frequently abused by young adults or adolescents and what side effects and consequences arise as a result of abuse. Identifying the possibility of addiction can be a scary, stressful and painful experience, but it is important to approach the topic promptly in order to circumvent the negative consequences of substance abuse and help young adults redirect their futures towards a sober lifestyle.
Addiction Information On The Most Commonly Abused Substances
Drug and alcohol abuse can be found virtually everywhere and it affects many people directly and indirectly. Recent data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration provides estimates surrounding the most commonly abused substances in the United States.
Regardless of age, alcohol is the number one most abused substance in the United States. Alcohol is a legal substance that is more accessible than many other illicit substances. An estimated 81.4% of people who consumed alcohol for the first time were under the age of 21 and nearly 9.3 million individuals between the ages of 12 and 20 are current underage drinkers. Alcohol use is often a centerpiece in many social situations and used to alleviate social anxiety or stress. Heavy drinking and binge drinking are growing problems among young adults and many are unable to identify the warning signs of developing addiction.
Tobacco is a legal, addictive substance that is as readily available as alcohol. Young adults ages 21 to 25 are currently the highest population of individuals using tobacco. Among adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17, 54.6% of those who smoked cigarettes within the past month admitted to also using other illicit substances. With the introduction of e-cigarettes that offer a variety of flavors and the growing popularity of hookah, tobacco is more commonly abused by young adults than many other substances.
Marijuana is the most commonly abused illicit substance in the United States. Marijuana is most popularly used drug among high-school aged adolescents and is often portrayed as a safe drug with health benefits. Recent moves to legalize marijuana in some states has contributed to the misconceptions surrounding the safety of the drug; however, in many cases, marijuana is often a gateway to other illicit substances.
Increased availability of prescription drugs has led to an increase in abuse. Prescription drug abuse has increased exponentially in recent years as painkillers, depressants and stimulants are more commonly prescribed for a variety of ailments. Prescription drugs can be found in virtually any household. When taken differently than as they are prescribed or by anyone other than the individual they are intended for, the side effects of prescription drugs can be just as powerful as many other illicit substances and just as addictive.
Cocaine is a powerful stimulant that is abuse by nearly 1.6 million people in the United States. Cocaine is an incredibly potent, addictive substance that produces extreme, short-lived highs followed by dramatic lows. The effects of cocaine cause dependency to develop rapidly and causes dramatic changes in physical, mental and emotional health.
Hallucinogens, such as LSD PCP and mushrooms, have grown exponentially. Hallucinogens are commonly abused in club scenes, concerts and parties. Often produced in bright colors and distributed as decorative tablets or dissolving strips of paper, the effects of hallucinogens vary from person to person, making these drugs especially dangerous. Hallucinogens can cause dramatic change in behavior, extreme dehydration and bad trips that can cause individuals to engage in dangerous behavior. In some cases, bad trips may negatively impact an individual for the rest of their life.
Opiates are available both through a physician and through illegal channels. Opiates are addictive by nature but those who struggle with addiction face a greater challenge. Whether it is heroin, Oxycontin, Codeine or another form of opiate, those struggling with addiction or abuse need to seek help from professionals to over come the withdrawal symptoms and the incredibly difficult first year of sobriety.
Heroin is one of the most addictive substances available. Heroin can be abused in a variety of ways and produces extreme changes in physical, mental and emotional health. The drug’s addictive nature and short-lived highs can cause individuals to quickly develop tolerances that lead to even more dangerous behavior. Heroin is relatively inexpensive as well, making it easier to acquire and abuse.
Meth is a powerful, addictive stimulant whose effects outlast that of cocaine. Methamphetamines are most commonly abused by young adults and can be used in a variety of ways. Often meth is cut with household cleaners and products, making each batch unknown and a bigger risk with every use.
Additional Information on Addiction
College Students Guide to Drug Abuse & Addiction
College Students and Diet Pill Abuse
Sex Addiction in Young Adults
Social Workers Help Treat Young Adults Struggling with Addiction
Dangers of GHB Use and Abuse
Side Effects of Ecstasy Addiction in Teens
Do you need depression treatment?
Warning Signs and Symptoms of Addiction
Dear Drug and Alcohol Addiction: Student Goodbye Letter to His Disease
Nurse Practitioners Help Addicts
The Most Common Influences on Substance Abuse
While there is no single reason a teen or young adult may begin experimenting with illicit substances, there are a variety of influences that can put individuals at an increased risk. Social experience, biological factors and developmental stages all play contributing roles in the risk factors for drug and alcohol abuse. It is important to educate young adults on the negative consequences substance abuse can inflict on physical, mental and emotional health in order to combat pressures and influences that contribute to the development of addiction.
Peer pressure is one of the most influential factors in the development of substance abuse. Many young adults witness their peers and friends using drugs and alcohol and may feel pressure to experiment in order to fit in. In some cases, young adults may witness their parents or other adults using alcohol, tobacco or even drugs. Drugs and alcohol are more readily available now than in previous years. Witnessing friends and peers using drugs and alcohol may make some believe it is a normal and acceptable part of young adult experience.
Popular media glorifies drug and alcohol abuse. Movies, television and popular music often portray drug and alcohol abuse as a fun, harmless way to engage with their peers. In pop culture, those who use illicit substances are depicted as popular, happy and enjoying life to the fullest extent. Drug and alcohol use is portrayed as commonplace and normal. Young adults may be influenced by these portrayals and may aspire to act in a way that aligns with how role models and celebrities may appear.
Drugs and alcohol may provide some with an escape. Substance abuse often manifests as an attempt to self-medicate. Young adulthood can be a trying time, filled with newfound independence and obstacles to overcome. Without a healthy outlet, some may turn to drugs and alcohol to deal with stress and other negative emotions. While the side effects of substance abuse may provide temporary feelings of happiness, relief or confidence, the negative side effects can quickly diminish that experience, creating a cycle of extreme highs and lows dictated by drugs and alcohol.
Substance abuse may make it easier for some to relate to others. Many young adults cite an inability to relate to peers as a factor in the development of drug and alcohol abuse. The side effects of substance use can alleviate social anxiety, providing some with the confidence to act in ways they would not otherwise. Not only are they able to relate to their peers by engaging in a similar activity, they feel uninhibited and able to act out in ways they normally would not by blaming drugs and alcohol for their behavior.
Many are misinformed about the consequences of drugs and alcohol. Many young adults believe that the risks associated with drug and alcohol abuse are minimal. This misconception coupled with an invincibility complex many young adults have can create a dangerous space for experimentation. Even if young adults are aware of the consequences, many falsely believe that these negative outcomes will not happen to them. In addition to the toll substance abuse can take on physical health, many do not consider the damage it inflicts on relationships and mental health. Substance abuse can lead many down a lonely road, leading to isolation and a sense of hopelessness. It is important for young adults to understand that drug and alcohol abuse negatively impacts nearly every aspect of life and hurts not only themselves, but those they love.
Treating Addiction at Sober College
Substance addiction is a unique struggle for each individual that comes to Sober College. There are a wide variety of factors and influences that play into each individual’s experience that must be addressed throughout the recovery process. Each client’s unique histories, experiences and influences are accounted for when developing a treatment plan to most effectively address their needs. In an environment designed to address the specific needs of young adults age 17-26, clients progress in an individualized treatment program surrounded by others they can readily relate to, making the recovery process easier.
Sober College is equipped to address age-specific needs while simultaneously providing support that allows clients to recovery physical, mentally and emotionally from the side effects of abuse. Each treatment program addresses not only the different phases of treatment, but also the unique influences that may impact substance abuse behaviors. The consequences of drug and alcohol abuse largely depend on the nature of the addiction, the presence of co-occurring disorders and the length of time abuse has occurred coupled with its severity and frequency. Sober College takes a holistic approach to young adult recovery, addressing all aspects of the mind and body to build a new foundation for a sober lifestyle. Recovery from addiction is not limited to a physical withdrawal from substances, but also requires mental and emotional growth to support sobriety. At Sober College, young adults are given the tools they need to lead an independent, successful life free from the influence of drugs and alcohol.