Young adulthood and adolescence are a time when many people begin trying out alcohol and drugs. Although this experimentation doesn’t always lead to addiction, most people who do have a substance use disorder (SUD) started using before the age of 18 and had developed the disorder by age 20. This is why it’s so important for there to be young adult rehab programs.
Generally speaking, the younger a person is when he or she first uses substances, the more likely it is that the person will later develop a substance addiction. On top of that, people that abuse substances at a young age are more inclined to later develop health issues such as liver disease, high blood pressure, or even mental health disorders.
A lot of information that studies and figures gather is from college-attending and non-college-attending young adults. For example, the Monitoring the Future study, which compiles data, has been annually tracking substance use among college students and non-college student young adults since 1980. From the facts collected, rates of drug and alcohol abuse tend to correlate between both groups with the non-college group at a slightly higher rate of abuse.
The use of alcohol among college students surpasses that of any other psychoactive substance by far. The most recent reports from the Monitoring the Future National Survey estimate that 63% of college students in 2014 consumed alcohol within the past 30 days and 35% had bouts of heavy drinking (5 or more drinks in a row) in the past 2 weeks. Furthermore:
With the exception of the last 2 rates of extreme binge drinking, these estimates are between 6-9% higher in college students. In high school, college-bound students were less likely to consume alcohol. Clearly, these rates indicate a considerable increase in the consumption of alcohol in the transition between high school and college.
In contrast to alcohol use, the annual popularity of illicit drug use was lower among college students compared to their non-college associates.
Vaping marijuana and vaping nicotine rose surprisingly in the three years from 2016 to 2019 among college-age adults (19 to 22 years old). According to the 2019 Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey results, the percentage of college students who said they vaped marijuana in the past 30 days rose from 5.2% in 2017 to 14% in 2019. Their non-college-attending peers increased from 7.8% in 2017 to 17% in 2019.
The percentage of college-age adults who vaped nicotine also rose between 2017 and 2019. In 2017, 6.1% of college students and 7.9% of those not in college said they vaped nicotine in the past month.
By 2019, the increase in vaping nicotine rose to 22% and 18% respectively. The increase in vaping marijuana and nicotine are among the largest increases for any substance reported by the Monitoring and Future study in its 45-year history.
Even though these statistics might seem insignificant, they show just how much young adults abuse substances such as alcohol. In fact, excessive college drinking has a marked effect on people and on the community at large. Consequences include:
Additionally, more than 80% of all arrests by college campus police involve alcohol. About one-fourth of students report problems with school-related alcohol consumption. This should make it clear that college substance abuse creates significant community health risks. Likewise, the risk to the individual may have lifelong consequences.
Studies have confirmed various brain structure and physiological changes associated with adolescent and young adult alcohol use. These changes develop into problems with:
Drug use among college students also puts them at heightened risk for health, behavioral, and social consequences. Among adults aged 18 and older with serious mental illness, the percentage of those who had a SUD in the past year was 35% among 18 to 25-year-olds. This was followed by 26 to 29-year-olds at 25%.
Very often, substance abuse is accompanied by a mental health problem. It doesn’t matter which came first, when co-occurring they both need to be treated at the same time. A co-occurring substance use problem and a mental disorder is known as a dual diagnosis disorder.
This evidence indicates that heavy drinking during adolescence and young adulthood is tied to poor neurocognitive functioning (the ability to think, reason, learn, speak, and understand) and the ability to identify visual and spatial relationships among objects.
Those who regularly used marijuana and those who increased their use during college used health care services more often than not. They also had higher levels of depressive and anxiety-related symptoms for up to seven years after college.
SUD may also be a risk factor for suicide. It’s important to recognize this when evaluating the risks for adolescents and young adults.
The co-occurrence of substance use and mental health disorders (such as panic disorder, major depression, and generalized anxiety disorder) in college students was associated with higher odds of cigarette smoking. Unfortunately, of the 67% with frequent binge drinking and co-occurring mental health problems, only 38% received mental health services.
Watch for these signs of substance use in your adolescent or young adult. The sooner you help them receive treatment, the better it is for everyone.
You can help your loved ones by learning methods to reduce the risk of substance abuse and support healthier behavior, while still not approving of substance use. These methods include:
Although there is no single answer for all people, strategies that reduce harm are a good way to lower the social and health risks associated with substance abuse. This is often a good first step for your loved one to take on the journey to wellness and sobriety.
Every day, we take part in some type of harm reduction such as washing our hands, using seatbelts, and wearing helmets and protective gear during sports activities. Similarly, there are things we can do to reduce the risks connected to substance abuse.
Remember, any attempt to lower the risks associated with SUD is a step in the right direction. Understandably, it’s not what you want for your child, but it is the beginning of recovery.
The first step in helping your young adult is to contact a medical professional. You start by finding a clinician who can screen for signs of drug use and other health conditions. Be sure that the doctor is experienced in screening for these issues. If they aren’t, find one who is.
Another choice is to find an addiction specialist and contact him or her directly. There are 3,500 physicians in the United States who specialize in addiction. Plus, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry has an Adolescent Psychiatrist Finder on its website. Using this, an addiction specialist can help you decide if your young family member should be referred to a treatment center.
When an adolescent’s use habits and relevant factors have been evaluated, most of the time they will be referred to one of five treatment levels. Here, treatment levels are arranged along a continuum of intensity and include:
Educational or short-term intervention services.
Typically, young adults attend treatment sessions for about 6 hours per week. The amount of time young adult rehab patients spend in treatment depends on their progress and their individual treatment plans. They will still live at home and continue to attend school or work.
Young adults attend treatment during the day and attend sessions for about 20 hours pr week. Program durations range from two months to one year.
Residential (or inpatient) programs provide treatment in a treatment facility. The patient will live in the facility and receive 24-hour care and monitoring, free from distractions and triggers to use substances.
This program is most appropriate for young adults who have medical and emotional problems that are so severe that they require 24-hour medical care.
Most inpatient and outpatient programs use a diverse treatment approach by combining several types of therapy in their treatment programs. The most common are these evidence-based approaches:
The family approach to therapy aims to reduce the use of drugs and correct the problem behaviors that typically go with drug use. This is accomplished by acknowledging family issues such as poor communication and problem-solving.
Family therapy for adolescents is based on the idea that the family carries the most intense and long-lasting influence on child and adolescent development.
Individual therapy is one-on-one counseling between a patient and his or her therapist. It is meant to uncover issues and problems that may have led to a person’s substance abuse. All information is strictly confidential to help build trust.
Both individual and group therapy vs. group therapy when treating adults. However, studies have shown that group therapy can be risky with adolescents. Some members of the group may try to lead the discussion toward stories about having fun with drugs. Therefore, group therapy for young adult rehab should be used at the discretion of the treatment facility.
This form of therapy has proven to be an effective treatment for substance use disorders for adults and adolescents alike. Behavioral therapies can help patients:
Common behavioral therapies include:
CBT is based on the idea that your thoughts, feelings, and actions are connected. And that negative thoughts and feelings can trap you in a destructive cycle.
DBT is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy that also works on how your thoughts, feelings, and behavior affect each other. But DBT puts more emphasis on regulating emotions, being mindful, and learning to accept pain.
Grace Land Recovery center is an accredited addiction treatment center located in the Memphis Tennessee area. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, you owe it to yourself or your loved one to contact us now. We are available 24-hours a day over the phone to talk to you about your needs and concerns.
At Graceland, we specialize in treating dual diagnoses which means we are able to treat both mental and substance abuse problems simultaneously. This is a serious diagnosis that needs to be addressed as soon as possible. Take the first step and contact us now.