On Millennials And Addiction: Facing Unique Challenges In The Modern World
According to Time Magazine, millennials, or Generation Y as they are often referred, were born between 1980 and 2000. Millennials have now overtaken baby boomers as the largest of all current generations – approximately 40% of adults 21 and over belong to this group.
Millennials, unfortunately, have been stricken with issues relating to the drug epidemic and substance abuse. And it’s not just about the follies of youth – millennials experience a unique subculture that may contribute to substance use. Therefore, we have to ask – is there something specific about this generation that makes those in its midst more vulnerable to drug and alcohol abuse?
Let’s look at the facts: recent data suggest that adult Americans aged 18-34 are the group engaging in the most binge drinking – nearly 60% of which are college students. Furthermore, about 1 in 5 college students meet the criteria for an alcohol use disorder.
Prescription drug abuse statistics are about the same, with 20% of college-aged people reporting having misused pharmaceuticals. But what, exactly, is fueling millennials’ desire to engage in substance abuse at this level?
There is probably not one single reason we can point to as to the reason for the prevalence of substance use among this age group, and it’s more likely a combination of multiple factors.
One, this age group, regardless of which generation, is more prone to experimentation with drugs and alcohol, for biological reasons such as increased impulsivity. Moreover, the reward system in developing minds is more sensitive than in a fully-developed brain, and results in an exaggerated response to reward and pleasure-seeking.
It is for this reason why younger adults tend to be more susceptible to addiction than older adults.
Another factor is stress. Alcohol and drugs are often used as a coping mechanism among people of all ages, but millennials are believed to be more affected by stress and report being stressed more often than other groups. This stress can interrupt their ability to make appropriate decisions and less likely to consider the consequences, especially when their brain is receiving a “reward” for making the wrong choices.
Some experts have suggests that certain aspects of the millennial subculture may foster characteristics of an addictive personality, such as technology like smartphones.
Like substances, this technology becomes less enjoyable the more it is experienced in daily life, but the stress that evolves from its absence, not unlike mental symptoms of drug withdrawal, can be quite marked.
Moreover, millennials are multi-taskers – the likes the world may have never seen before. They can switch from one device or social network to another, one website to another, and have endless access to electronic entertainment. This behavior can result in a feedback pattern in which the person is rewarded for losing focus and inattentiveness.
In other words, a short attention span is reinforced neurologically in a process that is similar to substance abuse.
Addiction Treatment For Young Adults
Unfortunately, no one can change the world. But one person CAN seek help for their substance use. As noted, if you grew up in the 1980’s and 1990’s, you have unique experiences that impact the way you communicate and view the world.
Millennials often find traditional addiction treatment, such as 12-step programs somewhat alienating. While these programs may be incorporated into a more comprehensive treatment program, they don’t always work as a stand-alone approach.
We offer customized treatment that also includes therapy and counseling, as well as holistic approaches such as music therapy and yoga. Addiction, regardless of your age, is most effectively treated using a variety of evidence-based methods, many of which we employ. We tailor treatment to the individual, not a group or a one-size-fits-all approach to recovery.
Our goal is to make you feel empowered and regain your excitement for life. While there are many factors you experience in your generation, substance use is also a personal choice for which you are accountable. What you need is the help required to set yourself on that path – from detox to treatment, aftercare, and recovery.
We believe that you are fully capable of making healthier decisions and recovering from addiction to engage in a fulfilling, happy life.
You may have felt vulnerable to the stress and overstimulation that is so common now in homes, work environments, social situations, and higher education institutions. During residential treatment, we help you tune out the distractions of the modern world, and you will begin to realize that the control you seek is within yourself, and is not merely driven by external stressors.
If you choose to stay at our center, we will help you set realistic short- and long-term goals to fulfill your dreams and interests – a blueprint for what you can achieve in your life to make it happy and successful.
Seek Help Today
If you or someone you love is engaging in substance abuse, please seek treatment as soon as possible. There are many resources available to help you or your loved one.
Please call us today at +888-380-0342 for a free consultation.
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology