Young adult addiction is an epidemic for many communities across the United States. With that being said, there are areas that seem to higher rates of substance abuse and addiction problems. Often mental health can be associated with drug and alcohol abuse. Let’s explore 7 ways to fight young adult addiction and how we can become more educated on topics of mental health.

1 | Join The Royals

The Duke and Dutchess of Cambridge are making headlines once again for yet another campaign to promote mental health awareness and to fight the stigma surrounding mental health. With the #HeadsTogether campaign, Kate Middleton, Prince William and Prince Harry are spreading awareness on mental health and urging others to speak out. But wait, the blog is supposed to be on the topic of addiction – so why are we covering mental health? According to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), there is a large portion of young adults that have both a substance use disorder and a mental health condition of some kind. While major depressive disorder was one of the most common, other mental health conditions are also common in those that abuse substances. Many people that abuse drug and alcohol may have untreated or undiagnosed mental heath conditions that could effect their substance use.

“Mental health is just as important as physical health,” the Duchess said in a PSA for the charity. “We can all play our part by helping and listening to each other and helping each other find support,” Prince Harry added before his big brother, William, concluded “Let’s get our heads together and change the conversation of mental health.”
The Huffington Post Canada – Royal Family Puts Heads Together To End Mental Health Stigma

Discussing mental health is just as important as maintaining physical health. As discussed in our previous post on the mind and body, health comes with help. Finding the right outlets to help with mental health and substance abuse can be one of the most important steps in sober living.

2 | Know the Statistics on Young Adult Addiction

This topic of substance abuse, young adult addiction and mental health challenges can be uncomfortable with some people. However, the statistics on the prevalence of these issues proves to us over and over that we need to make a change. The following statistics were gathered by SAMHSA in 2013:

  • 7.7 million young adults (18+) suffered from a substance use disorder and a co-ocurring mental health condition.
  • 2.3 million young adults (18+) suffered from a substance use disorder and a severe mental health disorder.
  • Adolescence ages 12-17 that had a major depressive episode also reported substance use.
  • An estimated 24.6 million individuals aged 12 or older were current illicit drug users in 2013, including 2.2 million adolescents aged 12 to 17. In 2013, 60.1 million individuals aged 12 or older were past month binge drinkers, including 1.6 million adolescents.
  • In 2013, about 1 in 10 adolescents (10.7 percent) had a major depressive episode (MDE) in the past year. Among adolescents with MDE, 38.1 percent received treatment or counseling for depression in the past year.

Children are exposed to substances at a young age. The statistics cite the age group of 12-17. This is a critical age that is greatly influenced by peers and exposure to substances when there are undiagnosed or untreated mental health concerns can greatly intensify the addictive behaviors. With the statistics above, many adolescence and young adults experience major depressive episodes and go untreated. In the last statistic, only 38% received treatment, which means that 62% were untreated.

3 | Educate Your Family and Friends

Talking about mental health and substance abuse in your homes and with your friends can help make the topic less controversial. Educating those you love can help them see when they have a problem. Talk about the prevalence of these issues, and how common it is for those effected by substances to seek treatment in the recovery process. There is no shame in finding help and choosing to fight for a better life.

Many people suffer in silence. Some try to lead a double life. Sober living may seem impossible to some young adults that suffer with addiction and substance use problems. Drugs and alcohol may play a major role in substance abuse, but prescription drug abuse is also dangerous. Recently, ABC Good4Utah published an article stating that Utah was the 4th highest in the nation for drug overdose deaths. Many people that were prescribed drugs for injuries or other medical necessities admit to having some left over and not disposing of it. Educating your family on the powerful effects of these drugs and proper disposal can help save others from abusing these substances.

In 2014, 300 individuals died from a prescription opioid overdose in Utah… Oxycodone drugs accounted for 59.2 percent of all prescription opioid deaths in 2014, followed by methadone at 12.6 percent. Prescription opioids deaths have outnumbered heroin and cocaine deaths combined since 2002.
ABC Good4Utah – Report : 6 Utahns Die of Opiod Overdose Each Week 

4 | Help Your Loved Ones

Those closest to us are the ones that can often be the most distant. Young adult addiction is a complex topic and those that suffer from addiction don’t do so out in the open. Some attempt to lead a double life, only using in secret. We’ve talked about supporting loved ones and choosing recovery before; but there is always time to be sure you are reaching out to those you love. Talking to them, finding time to reach out and help them recognize that they are loved and cared for, can help them see the value of living sober.

For those that are using substances, drinking alcohol or suffer from prescription drug abuse; it is always something you can get help to quit doing. Addiction treatment facilities can help teach you to live sober, help with drug rehab and ensure your medical health through this process. It is a very scary path to travel alone, that is why addiction treatment exists.

5 | Acknowlege When There is a Problem

Experimenting with substances at a young age may seem like right of passage. Using drugs may seem like something you can stop anytime; perhaps it is “just a one time thing”. Wrong. A problem can begin at any stage of experimentation. Anytime some one ventures outside of healthy living situations to cure an urge or a need, there can be other motives at large. Undiagnosed mental health conditions are extremely common. Self medicating with drugs and alcohol can be very dangerous. Those with undiagnosed mental health conditions may find that abusing substances takes away bothersome side effects or makes them feel different. It’s important to find the right professional help to gain the skills needed to cope with mental health concerns and substance use.

6 | Accept Help & Speak Up

We are a prideful culture. We think we are independent. We are all connected with the internet and we can ‘Google’ anything we need help with. This separation, by isolating ourselves with pride, causes a rift in accepting help from others. Acceptance is the first of many steps to recovery and sober living. When you can recognize that life can be better and leave your pride behind; you can begin to make true progress. For young adults this can be an exceptionally hard task to deviate from the “social norm”. Don’t go with the flow, stand up for healthy living. Honest living is the only way you can find happiness with healthy habits and the right skills to cope with stress.