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Millennials and Substance Abuse… What’s with it?

September 17, 2018 - - 0 Comments

Millennial Addiction


Millennials are a controversial generation because they are breaking with many of the traditions that their parents and past generations set into place. For example, they enjoy rap and electronic dance music, two genres that their parents might think are nothing more than noise. However, the drug and addiction habits of millennials are also much different from that of their parents.

For example, the use of illicit opiates and opioids, like heroin, has become less of an issue than it was in the past. In fact, many overly positive articles have noted a decline in illicit drug use and have proudly proclaimed that millennials are the “sober generation.” If only that were the case. Addiction and dependency is still a significant problem with a large number of people in this generation. The paradigm has simply shifted.

One thing that cannot be ignored is that mental health is still a major contributing factor to this problem. Therefore, it is critical to fully understand what kind of drugs the millennial generation is doing and how they are affecting their overall maturation. Treatment for millennial addiction is also vital for those who need recovery from a severe and troubling dependency.



Illicit Drug Use Has Its Ups And Downs With Millennials

As mentioned in the introduction, the use of illicit substances has dropped significantly in recent years. In fact, these levels have been falling for decades, which has caused many to proclaim that the war on drugs is working. But then you read the newspaper or turn on the television and learn about the overdose death of a millennial. What is going on here?

It is true that the use of illicit drugs has, overall, been on the decline for a long time. However, those who do use illegal substances are using them in higher amounts. Even worse, the use of rehab and dual-diagnosis is being ignored by many who suffer from addiction. That’s because the millennial generation often thinks they know better than their parents or can beat addiction on their own.

And while the millennial generation is a knowledgeable and thoughtful group of people on the whole, they still suffer from the same kind of self-focus that is a problem for past generations. As a result, those who do suffer from addiction may be avoiding treatment because they don’t think that it is useful. This arrogance does have the benefit of driving many millennials away from taking drugs.

For example, while there is a methamphetamine epidemic gripping much of the nation, it isn’t focused that much on millennials. And the abuse of alcohol and nicotine has also dropped massively in this generation. That said, these statistics do ignore the fact that people who are not smoking cigarettes may have turned to vaping instead. An addiction is an addiction and vaping is only a minor improvement on smoking cigarettes.

Beyond that, studies are finding that more and more millennials are suffering from a dependency on pills or prescription drugs. Xanax and benzodiazepines are becoming one of the primary drugs of choice for a large number of people in this generation. Abusing benzos and other substances is not a safe alternative for illicit drug use. In fact, they may be doing just as much damage to this generation as heroin and cocaine did to past generations.


Other Types Of Addictions May Be Contributing To Abusing Illicit Substances

Before discussing the fact that many millennials are abusing prescription drugs, it is worth touching on other types of addictive behaviors from which they suffer. People of this generation have often shifted their addictive behaviors to elements outside of substance abuse. For example, many have become hopelessly addicted to Facebook and other types of social media. They become addicted to social media because of how it:

  • Provides Instant Feedback
  • Creates a Sense of Belonging
  • Showcases People at Their Best and Worst
  • Allows Them to Reach Out to People Far Away
  • Shares Their Personality and Interests

The obsessive updates and endless social media groups have drawn in millennials more than any other generation. Another addiction that has become particularly noticeable is that of selfies. While individuals of all ages take selfies, the current generation’s dependence on taking pictures of themselves in every situation and sharing them online has become nearly comical. Products like the “selfie stick” showcase how prevalent this issue has become in this generation.

In fact, it is fair to say that general technology addiction has driven many millennials away from drugs. Video game consoles tend to drag people in for hours or even days at a time. Massive, multi-million dollar games provide hundreds of hours of safe entertainment, but many people end up falling into a cycle of gaming that pulls them away from taking care of their day-to-day lives. And online streaming has created the habit of “binging” television series and movies for hours at a time, creating another type of addictive behavior.

All of these dependencies have created a generation that is also prone to take fewer risks than past groups. While this is both good and bad, it has led to a decline in illicit drug use throughout this age group. However, all of these other types of addictions don’t create the same kind of potent high that users get from substances. Those who want that feeling will still try to achieve it. It’s just that millennials are more likely to turn to legal drugs, such as painkillers and benzodiazepines, for their highs.



Painkillers Are Becoming A Bigger Deal

The generational identity for millennial individuals is one that takes fewer unnecessary risks than past generations and which uses information learned from previous years to influence their decision making. However, this generation has become one of the worst abusers of painkillers and other forms of legal prescription medications. Studies show that about three million millennial individuals abuse prescription drugs regularly.

A woman in the bathtub with clothes on in Daytona BeachAnother study found that 70 percent of Americans take one prescription drug while half take two or more. Shockingly, dangerous drugs like opioids and opiates were among the most commonly-prescribed substances in this age group. Destroying pain and living a comfortable life has become a popular goal for many in this age group, which has unfortunately led to a considerable increase in painkiller prescriptions and abuse.

As a result, many in this age group who merely need to manage their pain may find themselves prescribed an opiate that has the potential to be very addictive. If they are prone to addiction for any reason, they might find themselves drawn to use this substance compulsively. And these are just the well-meaning people who had no interested in achieving an unnatural or unhealthy high.

Those millennial individuals who are looking for that kind of potent high are forgoing the danger of purchasing heroin or cocaine from questionable individuals and are instead turning to prescription medications. Their risk-adverse nature makes them more likely to buy drugs that are, technically, legal. And the surprising high that many substances create can drive many to abuse them or even to turn to illegal substances later.

Some of the most commonly abused of these substances include codeine, hydrocodone, morphine, and oxycodone. The latter drug (also known as “Oxy” by many users) has become particularly popular because it is potent, inexpensive, and easy to find. This epidemic of painkiller abuse has become the defining one among millennial individuals. Unlike the heroin-addled grunge generation, millennials are growing addicted to opioid and opiate at a very alarming rate.



Fringe Drugs Are Becoming More Popular

Beyond the fact that millennial individuals are turning to prescription drugs is their interest in rarely-used types of drugs. In fact, drug use is often a cyclical situation because substances that are popular lose the attention of the general public while those that were not popular suddenly draw the eyes of drug users.

That cycle has reset for this generation, as a whole new array of substances is replacing past favorites like cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and marijuana. And while pot remains popular in most places, its increasing legality and ease of access have made it less attractive to those who want both a more potent high and a more illegal one.

Understanding these newer and more fringe drugs is critical for grasping where millennial individuals are turning to get their most potent highs. If you know a millennial who has the following substances in their home or who have discussed using them, it is essential to talk to them right away about a potential dependency and to take steps to get them  the proper treatment that they need:

  • Adderall – People with ADHD use this drug to overcome their symptoms. However, Adderall is a stimulant that many in this age group are using to give them an edge in their work. Unfortunately, it can be very addictive and hard to quit.
  • MDMA – This substance, also known as ecstasy or Molly, is known as a party drug. That’s because it is a powerful stimulant that also minimizes your inhibitions. Unfortunately, addiction to this drug can cause a person to behave in unpredictable ways, including having unprotected sex or jumping from high places because they feel “invincible.”
  • LSD – Acid has always been more of a fringe drug than other types of substances. Unfortunately, a growing number of millennial individuals are seeking it out. That’s because they believe it is not addictive and want the “mind-expanding” experience. Sadly, many become psychologically addicted to that effect and continue to seek it.
  • Lean – If you’ve never heard of this drug, that’s because it is relatively new. It is also one of the easiest to make because just about anybody can make it with legal substances. That dangerous combination of ease of access and potency of effect has made it a very addictive drug for many in this age group. And no, we’re not going to reveal the ingredients.

All of these drugs have potent effects that are very dangerous. Therefore, it is critical to find a way to manage dependency on these substances in a safe, healthy, and healing manner. Thankfully, there are many treatment centers available that provide rehab for individuals, no matter what drug has taken a grip on their life. Understanding how to find treatment is vital for this process.



Treatment for Millennials Addicted to Drugs is Critical

No matter what kind of substance has become popular for the millennial generation, it is critical to get high-quality treatment in a caring facility. Addiction has the same impact on a person’s body and mind, no matter what their age group. It’s not uncommon to see millennials addicted to drugs who run into legal trouble, lose their jobs, end up homeless, abandon their family, or even overdose and die. This process can be avoided by getting dual-diagnosis treatment.

Dual-diagnosis is the process of treating a person’s mental health problems at the same time as their physical addiction. It has become the leading type of addiction therapy because it helps to break the cycle of abuse more quickly. Just as importantly, it assesses other problems that could contribute to dependency and makes them easier to break. 

grayscale photo of man in tank top

Finding one of these treatment centers requires doing a little bit of research online. There are dozens of these facilities across the nation, many of which specialize in a specific care method. For example, adventure therapy centers put you or your loved one in a unique and challenging situation, such as surviving in the woods with a group of others. This challenge forces them to rethink their lives and commit to a drug-free future.

Research several facilities that you think will help in the fight against dependency and decide if being close to home or far away is better for recovery. Many individuals do well staying closer to home in a rehab center because they can communicate with their friends and family members for extra support. However, others need to be isolated from potential use triggers and individuals who may try to keep them addicted to dangerous substances.

Call up these facilities and talk to them about payment methods. Most take insurance and may even have a payment system for those who lack insurance and who also can’t afford immediate payment. Even better, some have a sliding scale that makes it easier for low-income individuals to pay for their recovery from the dangers of addiction.

So if somebody you love is a millennial addicted to drugs, you need to call us or another treatment center near you. Getting a handle on substance abuse requires dual-diagnosis, long-term care, and a  life-long commitment to sobriety. It won’t be easy, but it is possible to overcome addiction and to become a happy and healthy individual. Don’t hesitate to contact us to learn more, even if you aren’t ready to commit to rehab.



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