Drug and alcohol addiction is a widespread disease, affecting loved ones all over The United States. When a person experiences addiction, temporary and permanent changes can occur to the brain’s reward pathways. This can prove to be fatal. Below, we have outlined trends in drug and alcohol addiction. If you or someone you know is suffering from addiction, seek help immediately. The sooner an addict receives help, the sooner they will be able to start their path to recovery and live a healthier life.
First Time Drug Users Are Most Often Teenagers
Many factors can influence why a teenager tries drugs for the first time. But, first-time drug users are most often teenagers. When the senior class is graduating, half of them have taken an illegal drug. Over half of the graduating class, around 70 percent, have tried alcohol by this time. Teenagers are actually still developing, specifically their brain. The brain is not fully developed until the early to mid-twenties. A teenage brain is lacking development in one of the most crucial areas: the prefrontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex is prime for helping us make good decisions, use sound judgment, and maintain self-control.
Teenagers are known for being riskier and adventure seeking. This is due to their brain being underdeveloped, hormonal changes, and the social environment they are usually in. A teenager is more vulnerable to peer pressures during this crucial developmental phase in their life. If they see their friends doing it, they may have a desire to fit in. However, this can have dangerous consequences. If a teen develops a pattern of abuse, they could experience:
- strained relationships with friends and family members.
- their grades begin to slip or they are expelled from school.
- abandonment of old hobbies.
- an overdose.
If you or your teenager is suffering from addiction, the best course of action is to seek help. Your teenager will need guidance on how to navigate back to a healthy life and how to manage their symptoms. The Arizona Addiction Recovery Center has the capability to help treat those as young as 18.
Drug Abuse And College
Many young adults use college as a time in their life for experimentation. College has larger concentrations of young adults, making them social hubs. There are various reasons why a college student may try drugs or alcohol during this time, but the potential for drug abuse is much higher. The need to be more social may be why many college students partake in binge drinking, which can lead to addiction. However, one of the other reasons listed below may also play a factor.
- College students are often overworked. A college student that needs help focusing to cram for an exam or finish a term paper, may turn to drugs. Obtaining these drugs without a prescription is illegal. A college student may feel like there is just to much to do and become stressed or sad. This can lead to self-medicating behavior.
- College students are often curious. The prefrontal cortex is an important part of the brain that is not finished maturing until the mid-twenties. This part of the brain is responsible for making wise decisions and using good judgment. This means that college students are more likely to give into impulses without thinking about the consequences.
- College students often succumb to peer pressure. Students who witness other peers engaging in dangerous behavior or experimenting with drugs are more likely to them themselves. A college student may feel a desire to fit in or does not want to go against their peers.
Stress Levels And Addiction
Stress increases not only vulnerability to developing an addiction but also relapsing. Stress is our body’s internal response to something that we perceive to be threatening or challenging. The body tries to balance us all the time. It uses processes both internally and externally in order to bring us back to balance. Stress can be caused by a variety of factors, including:
- Loss of a job.
- Financial hardship.
- Strained relationships with family or friends.
- Difficulty sleeping.
- Drug withdrawal.
There is a correlation between chronic stress and substance abuse. Stressful situations, especially during the teenage years, can make someone more likely to engage in self-medicating behavior. Studies also suggest that drug abuse can wear away at your normal stress responses, similarly how it wears away at your reward pathways.
Life Expectancy And Drug Overdoses
Drug overdoses have a significant impact on life expectancy rates for the United States. This shows just how damaging the effects of addiction can truly be. In 2017, life expectancy rates dropped slightly due to drug overdoses. Since then, the number of drug overdoses has been topping the charts and continues to grow.
In 2017 alone, it was estimated that around 70,000 people had died due to overdosing. The opioid crisis in America is to blame, along with the stigma surrounding addiction that may prevent those from seeking the help they so desperately need.
Those Who Need Help Are Not Seeking Treatment
There have been studies that have suggested that the majority of those who need treatment for addiction, do not seek help. There is a stigma surrounding addiction that may make addicts steer away from getting the help they need. The stigma is that those who do drugs are bad people and are criminals. When in reality, addiction is a disease and needs to be treated as such. Suffering from an addiction does not mean that someone is a bad person. Ways to help combat this stigma are listed below.
- Gain information and education about addiction.
- If someone if your life is a recovering addict, be supportive versus judgemental.
- Display kindness in tough situations.
- Avoid using labels.
- If you hear or see someone being mistreated, speak up and correct them.
If you or someone you know is suffering from addiction, seek help immediately. Addiction can happen to anyone and is a chronic brain disease. The Arizona Addiction Recovery Center is home to a dedicated team of professionals that want to do everything in their power to help their patients succeed. This means they treat every person as an individual. Each person will receive a customized care plan that will guide them down the road to recovery and towards a better life.