Youth party

A recent study found information suggesting that young people were more likely to use drugs than their parents when their parents were young. The study focused on a wide range of health metrics, including physiological status, mental health, and behavioral health. Unfortunately, health indicators appear to have deteriorated on a number of metrics, suggesting that the American population is becoming less healthy over time.

Focusing on drug use trends in particular suggests that if young people are using drugs more frequently than their parents when they were young, that much needs to be done to combat addiction in America, both in terms of prevention and in the range of Treatment.

A look at the study

Drug and alcohol abuse play a prominent role in creating a condition in which young Americans are more unhealthy than their parents. According to a study from March 2021, health outcomes for Generation X and Generation Y (Millennials) are deteriorating compared to health outcomes in young adult years for baby boomers and the silent generation. According to the study, Generation Xers and Millennials are more likely to drink alcohol, use drugs, smoke, and struggle with anxiety, depression, and obesity than baby boomers when they were in their 20s and 30s.

The study, whose data was based on more than 688,000 Americans who participated in one of two long-term government health studies, clearly showed that each new generation is experiencing gradually deteriorating health outcomes. While medicine has certainly made leaps and bounds in the last few decades, it is young people still worse health outcomes than their parents. Unfortunately, drug use is part (but not all) of that picture.

“The declining health of the younger generations is not just an individual problem, but rather a social problem …”

Mother and daughter, health problems

Quote from study leader Hui Zheng, Associate Professor of Sociology at Ohio State University in Columbus: “The declining health of the younger generations is not just an individual problem, it is more of a societal problem. Society needs to change the environment, reduce inequality and increase job security for younger generations. ”

Zheng went on to say that no single study can get to the bottom of a topic as complex as the generational shift in health outcomes. And there is no easy solution to a problem that is not easy in itself.

However, if we look at only one aspect of the study, drug use among young adults, we can explore the issue further. We can use the study data to encourage today’s parents to step up their efforts to discourage young people from using drugs.

Statistics on drug use among young adults

From 2011 to 2014, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration conducted a study of young college-aged adults that looked at trends in drug use among Americans aged 18-22.

  • More than a third of adults in this age group have been binge drinking in the past month.
  • Around one in five adults in this age group has used an illegal drug in the past month.
  • Approximately 2,179 college-age adults drink alcohol for the first time each day.
  • Around 1,326 people in this age group use an illegal drug for the first time every day.
  • Approximately 1,299 people in this age group use marijuana for the first time every day.
  • Around 559 young people take prescription drugs for the first time every day.
  • About 447 young people use cocaine for the first time every day.
  • About 19 young people between the ages of 18 and 22 use heroin for the first time every day.

These initial rates (the number of people using drugs for the first time) are alarmingly higher than they were a few decades ago. They suggest that young people simply use more drugs than previous younger generations.

Young people also overdose more

Overdosed daughter in hospital

According to a 2018 NIDA report, while young people are using fewer drugs than they did in the 1990s, not only are they still using more drugs than their parents, but they are also overdosing on drugs at an unprecedented rate. This is extremely worrying.

As of 2015, the number of overdose deaths in young adults increased. First, it rose to 3.7 deaths for every 100,000 young people. That death rate was approximately 772 deaths in 2015. Most of the young people who died of drugs in 2015 took overdoses of heroin and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. This is particularly worrying given that drug abuse among young people has traditionally not involved either heroin or fentanyl. So not only are more young people dying of drugs, they are also taking drugs that they have not used in previous generations.

The problem only got worse over the years. In 2016, 873 young people died from a drug overdose. In 2017, 1,050 young people died from overdoses. The number of deaths fell to 790 in 2018, but then rose again in 2019. Unless families take drastic measures to educate their adolescent and young adult sons and daughters about the risks of drug use, the number of deaths from overdose will continue to rise.

Unique Risk Factors – Young adults have even more to lose when they use drugs

There is ample cause for concern that young people are more likely to use drugs than their parents. One factor is that young people are at particular risk when using drugs. Statistically speaking, young people are more likely to take serious risks when under the influence of drugs and alcohol (e.g. unprotected sex or dangerous driving). In addition, a young person’s brain continues to develop until around the age of 25, which makes them prone to developmental problems when they use drugs.

Drug use in adolescence is also linked to the development of health problems later in life, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, insomnia, cancer, memory loss, etc.

One last word

In the first years of the addiction epidemic (approx. 2000-2010) young people seemed to be somewhat protected from the addiction crisis for a short time. Some of them used drugs, yes, but drug use rates were lower than in previous decades. This has since changed. Young people today not only use more drugs than their parents, but also more deadly drugs like heroin, fentanyl, and other synthetic opioids.

To ensure that the younger generation continue to lead happy, healthy, and long lives, it is up to American families and communities to ensure that young people are educated and educated about the risks of drug use, and that they receive help with substance abuse when they do need.

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