Between 2007 and 2017, drug-related overdose deaths among millennials (people aged 18 to 34) increased by 108%. Opioid overdose death rates among millennials increased by more than 500% between 1999 and 2017. Alcohol-related deaths among this age group were up 69% while suicides were up 35%. This information is provided by the non-profit Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) and their affiliate, Well Being Trust. Also, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that these “deaths of despair” were higher for millennials than for Baby-Boomers and senior citizens.
Who are Millennials and Why are They Overdosing?
Millennials are individuals who were born between 1977 and 2000, and they make up about 25% of the U.S. population. According to Well Being Trust, these young adults have risk factors that make them more vulnerable to drugs, alcohol, and suicide.
- At this age, the frontal lobes of the brain are not fully developed, which makes them more likely to engage in impulsive behavior.
- People in this age group take more risks in sexual behaviors and drug-use than older adults.
- Unusually high numbers of millennials live in high-stress environments. For instance, 42% of the federal and state prison populations are between ages 20 and 34.
- Millennials make up 80% of U.S. enlisted military personnel, which is another high-stress environment.
- These young adults are often facing large amounts of college debt. As many as 40% of millennials have outstanding student loans, with as much as half of their income going to make the payments.
- Another source of stress for millennials is the rising cost of raising children. According to the DEA, raising a child to age 17 can cost about $240,000.
- Healthcare costs are an additional stress factor. Research shows that one in four millennials avoided medical care due to the costs.
- People in this age group have a high proportion of substance abuse, yet only 7.2% get the professional help they need.
- People between the ages of 25 to 34 and 35 to 44 are more likely to be uninsured.
- This age group grew up during a succession of traumatic events such as the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the Great Recession, and the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Many of these young people also struggle with family dysfunction, history of substance abuse, poverty, and mental health issues.
What Can be Done to Address the Rising Overdose Deaths Among Millennials?
The rising overdose deaths among millennials will decrease with policies and programs that are specifically targeted to this age group. These policies should focus on screening, treatment, and prevention resources. For example:
- Behavioral healthcare and screenings should be a routine part of healthcare in a non-judgemental manner.
- Screening and treatment for mental health and substance use disorders should be part of routine healthcare.
- Expand education programs among the healthcare system and treatment providers to improve suicide prevention.
- Routinely utilize screening tools for substance use disorders and mental health issues.
- Invest in and expand Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs and drug disposal programs.
- Continue following the CDC’s opioid prescribing guidelines.
- Insurance companies should continue coverage for young people on parents policies until age 26, as mandated by the ACA.
- Strengthen the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to ensure that all calls are answered promptly, and expand to include text and app-based services.
Of course, the above examples are only a few suggestions of ways to help reduce the overdose deaths among millennials. It’s important to remember that substance abuse and overdose deaths have an adverse impact on society. On our quest to prevent the spread of substance abuse, we take one step closer to protecting our future as a nation.
cdc.gov – Opioid Overdose: Understanding the Epidemic
wellbeingtrust.org – Alcohol and Drug Misuse and Suicide and the Millenial Generation: A Devastating Impact
Teens and young adults use drugs for a variety of reasons. Researchers spend countless hours trying to identify the reasons for teen drug abuse. As it stands, despite all the efforts to educate our youth about the dangers of substance use, they continue to ignore the warnings.
The following statistics will demonstrate the shocking number of young people who are experimenting with non-medical use of addictive substances in the past year, according to a survey conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH):
- Vaping – about 40% of 12th graders
- Illicit drugs – about 20% of 12th graders
- Marijuana – almost 40% of 12th graders
- Alcohol – more than 58% of 12th graders
- Synthetic drugs – approximately 5.3% of 12th graders
These numbers indicate that there are a lot of young people who are struggling with issues that lead them to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol. Of course, many of these teens may also be the product of peer-pressure, or they want to fit in with the crowd. But, addiction is a complex disorder, just as being a teenager is a complex stage of life. Needless to say, the combination can become deadly.
Other Reasons for the Prevalence of Teen Drug Abuse Today
Teenagers are vulnerable to the signals they receive from adults, movies, music, and social media. They are exposed to the glorification of drugs and alcohol in many directions.
Let’s break down these influences to gain an understanding of their impact on a young person:
- People. Teens see a lot of people consuming a variety of substances. Maybe their parents smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol Or; they may have a relative that smokes marijuana. A grandparent may be using a variety of painkillers and sleep aids. Even without these influences, a teen is always exposed to movies that make drug use look like the most fun ever. They’ve become so desensitized to substance abuse that it almost seems normal to them.
- Media and music. About 45% of teens surveyed agreed that some of the music they listen to makes marijuana seem cool. They also agreed that movies and television make smoking pot seem okay to do. Parents should take notice of the programs their teens are watching and talk to them about the content.
- Self-Medication. Many teens struggle with depression or poor self-image. If they don’t have a trusted confidant, they often turn to drugs or alcohol to ease their suffering. It’s natural for teenagers to want to feel good. Unfortunately, some of the things they turn to that make them feel better can make matters worse.
- Boredom. It’s not unusual for teens to become bored. If they aren’t hanging out with friends or otherwise being entertained, they look for a substitute. Most of the time they choose marijuana or alcohol to boost their mood and help them bond with other like-minded teens. However, far too many teens turn to harder substances. In any case, the drugs provide an instant shortcut to happiness.
- Rebellion. Teens are complex but they often act-out in predictable ways. An angry teen often turns to alcohol or meth because these substances enable them to behave aggressively. On the other hand, a teen will turn to marijuana as an avoidance drug to help reduce aggression. Overall, regardless of the drug of choice, many teens use these substances as a way to flaunt their independence or to make their parents angry.
- Lack of Self-Esteem or Confidence. Many shy teens admit that they do things while under the influence of a substance that they would not have done otherwise. For instance, a high person who doesn’t dance well gains the confidence to dance, or a bad singer will sing anyway, or a shy boy will have the courage to kiss the girl he likes. If things don’t go well, it can always be blamed on too much booze or too much weed.
Unfortunately, many teens are victims of misinformation about substance use. They tend to listen to their friends who claim to be experts on the subject. Also, teens believe the drugs are safe because nothing bad has happened yet.
More Risk Factors That are Common Among Teens
The reasons for teen drug abuse are often attributed to risk factors such as child abuse, sexual abuse, or neglect. Furthermore, many teens have a family history of substance abuse. Sudden trauma is also a contributing factor for some teens. Trauma such as the death of a loved one, divorce, or moving to a new town, can often lead a teen to experiment with drugs or alcohol. These sorts of reasons for teen drug abuse are more common than one would think.
So far, we can’t accurately predict which teens will develop substance use disorders. But, for those who do, many affordable, evidence-based treatment programs specialize in treating teenagers.
If you would like more information about the reasons for teen drug abuse, please contact us at our toll-free number today.
drugabuse.gov – Monitoring the Future Survey: High School and Youth Trends
drugabuse.gov – Principles of Adolescent Substance Use Disorder Treatment
getsmartaboutdrugs.gov – Why Do Teens Use Drugs?
Watching a loved one become more entangled in the use of drugs can be a helpless feeling. When talking seems to do no good and they are in complete denial (at least to you), it is time to take other measures. An intervention for drug abuse may be what gets them to seek the help that they need before it is too late. As much as you want to help or “fix” your loved one’s problem, you are not qualified for such an undertaking. As you try to help, you may unknowingly be enabling your loved one in their abuse.
The Goal of the Intervention for Drug Abuse
First and foremost, you must remember your goal for the intervention for drug abuse. The main goal is to get your loved one to realize that they need professional help and to agree to seek help from a drug addiction treatment facility. However, this must be done in a compassionate and caring way. This intervention needs to be carried out in a constructive manner. You don’t want to put your loved one on the defensive or to make them feel as if everyone is attacking and ganging up on them. If the individuals conducting the intervention are not very careful in their choice of words, it can turn bad very quickly and the abuser might even leave the meeting.
Staging an Intervention for Drug Abuse
Most families of drug abusers have heard of interventions but don’t actually know how to conduct a successful one. You should contact an intervention specialist to help you plan your meeting. The specialist will also be on hand during the meeting to keep it going in the right direction and assure that it does not become confrontational. Most addiction treatment facilities have professional interventionists who can assist you. They can make sure that your loved one has a room reserved at a treatment facility in the event that they agree to go and receive treatment for their abuse or addiction. In addition, the interventionist will arrange transportation to the facility for your loved one.
Conducting the Intervention
When it comes to participation, you should only have a small group of family and friends to take part in the intervention. You don’t want to overwhelm your loved one with too many people coming at them at once. Each person should keep a calm and caring tone as they speak with the abuser. Let them know that they are loved and that you only want what is best for them. Don’t be accusatory or show anger in any way. This may be detrimental to your purpose.for the intervention.
As each person speaks, they should let their loved one know how their drug abuse has hurt them and damaged their relationship without becoming overly emotional and showing anger. Give them consequences if they don’t enter a treatment program, such as that you will no longer give them money, bail them out when they get in trouble or give them a place to stay while they are using drugs. Assure them that they will have your full support as long as they continue to put forth the effort to get off of drugs and return to the person they once were. However, if they refuse to get help, then tell them you have no choice but to let them go. You must be ready to follow through with these consequences though. They cannot be empty threats.
Inpatient Drug Rehabilitation
Hopefully, your intervention for drug abuse will be a success and your loved one will agree to enroll in a drug rehabilitation program to receive the help they so desperately need. Alcohol and drug abuse and addiction can be conquered and the addict can go on to live a productive and healthy life. There are many addiction treatment programs available today to fit each person’s individual needs and preferences.
To learn more about staging an intervention for your loved one and the many different treatment programs offered, call and speak with one of our addiction and intervention specialists today. There is help for your loved one.
Our children are our future. They are the ones who will lead the rest of the world in the direction it goes in. We have a great responsibility as parents, teachers, family members, and friends of a family, to set a good example for our kids and teach them love, care, compassion, tolerance, and responsibility. By teaching your child life skills, you are giving them one of the best gifts you can give.
Critical Life Skills
There are life skills that can be taught by way of examples set; children observe a lot. They are in the learning stages of life, and if there is one thing that they know how to do and could teach us, adults, a lesson about, that would be observation. They look, watch, see, think, copy, try, and repeat, and then they do what they saw. In essence, you are teaching your child life skills without even knowing it.
Practicing excellent communication, listening attentively while allowing another to have a viewpoint of their own, whether you agree or not, is an excellent example of proper communication. “I heard you,” “That’s great,” “I see,” “OK,” are all ways of showing that you were listening to what they had to say and that they are important. Then, you can begin to contribute to the conversation and share your ideas with the person.
Practicing good communication directly with your child can do wonders, practicing it in your day to day life with other people will not only improve your relationships with them but your kid will observe and practice and duplicate it. One of the most important skills in life is communication. You can start right away, or you can look for and take a class or course on building success through communication.
You can start teaching your child life skills step by step by sitting down and going over something with them as many times as they need and making it routine for them. Something routine would be personal hygiene, a necessary life skill, teaching your kid to take care of their body by grooming it correctly, taking baths, brushing teeth, and so on.
Ways of Teaching Your Child Life Skills
One of the most critical ways of teaching your child life skills is by communicating what it is to a child and why you are doing it and see if it makes sense to the child. An everyday example of this will be if you explain to a child why you look both ways and hold someone’s hand before crossing a street rather than if you just grab their hand and force them to give it to you because you say so.
Children are very easy to get along with and to teach; they just require love and gentle, genuine communication. They live to please and be sweet as that is their way of showing gratitude. When they give you a drawing or a flower or a big smile, or a cute expressive and dynamic explanation of something, they are sharing themselves and exchanging what they have to offer for the food, shelter, guidance, safety, and love that you give them. It is important not to turn away from that gift, even if it is something as seemingly insignificant as a rock.
There are critical skills that you can teach your child which will allow him or her to better cope in life and to learn about responsibility for themselves and others, which would help them to see that using drugs would be destructive to themselves, their life, and others’ lives around them.
Life Skills List
There are many life skills you should teach your child to help them to grow up making good decisions and to prevent the potential for drug abuse.
There is the essential skill set for taking care of the body:
- Personal hygiene
- Proper sleep
- Eating nutritious meals
- Exercise (which lucky for you they tend to do lots of naturally)
Their relationship skills:
- Treating others with respect
- Treating others with tolerance
- Treating others with compassion
- Treating others with manners
- Good communication
There are those skills for finances:
- Teaching a kid where money comes from
- Explaining the meaning of fair exchange
- Why one has a job
- What it means to have purpose when working
- How to save money
- The importance of learning and study
- Spending time at something with a goal
- Picking a subject, they want to learn
- How to read and write
- How to research
- Making sure they understand what they are studying about
- Asking questions about what they are studying
- How to apply what they learned
- Teaching them the truth about drugs
- What drugs do to the body
- What drugs do to the mind
- You don’t have to experience something personally to learn about it
- What different drugs there are and what harmful effects they cause
- How drugs can ruin someone’s life
- How drugs can make someone crazy
- How drugs can be addicting
- Why people turn to drugs (i.e., peer pressure, loss, medical drug addiction, etc.)
- How to avoid situations where one could turn to drugs
Prevent Drug Abuse
We can prevent drug abuse in our children and limit the exposure of drugs to the world by giving our children a stable, loving, rewarding, and educated lifestyle. Children are our future; we can change the future by helping our children to grow in safe, caring, and tolerant environments. Learning life skills is necessary to live life well. Drug addiction can be limited in the world through education, compassion, tolerance, and love.