Millennials and Addiction

The relationship between millennials and addiction is becoming increasingly troublesome. Individuals born in any generation have the potential to abuse substances and develop addictions, but there are certain trends and factors that affect millennials disproportionately. There are also certain substances they appear to lean toward. Additionally, there are possible links between millennials and depression or anxiety, which are often contributing factors in addiction. 

Many millennials are still young adults in a challenging transitional period of their lives. Perhaps you are in college, trying to balance school and a job, or entering the workforce and facing your first major financial stress. When you are under stress, you may find yourself turning to alcohol and other drugs for temporary relief, but these substances often create more problems than they solve.

Addiction can happen unintentionally and get out of control quickly. Fortunately, there is help out there, and we can guide you to the right treatment program. Call us today at 912-214-3867 to find out more about recovery options in your area. We can help ease the process for you as you begin your journey to an addiction-free life. 


Addiction can affect anyone, but millennials face their own set of challenges when it comes to substance abuse. Understanding some of the possible causes and warning signs can put you one step closer to recovery. Continue reading below for more information.

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Substance Abuse in Millennials

Of course, substance abuse and millennials are not uniquely tied together. However, there are certain tendencies among this generation that can help us know what to look out for and better understand the needs of millennials seeking treatment.

Research that compared substance use rates between different generations have shown that alcohol and cigarettes are the most prevalent forms of substance use for millennials, followed by marijuana. Additionally, although heroin use is not the most prevalent, it has notably increased among millennials over the last several years. Millennials are also more likely to use nonmedical prescription opioids than older generations, and with this opioid use comes higher rates of marijuana, stimulants (e.g., Adderall), and cocaine usage. 

The Vaping Trend  

Vaping is a relatively recent, but significant, factor in the relationship between millennials and addiction. Younger people are less likely to smoke cigarettes than their older counterparts (in a 2018 Gallup poll, only 9% of older adults reported that they “occasionally or regularly” vape), but much more likely to take up vaping.

Although vaping has been called the “safer” alternative to smoking, substances like nicotine and marijuana can have adverse effects regardless of the form they take. For this reason, it is important to include vaping in the conversation regarding millennials and addiction. 

Results compiled from recent surveys demonstrate the upward trend of vaping among young adults. According to 2019 Monitoring the Future survey conducted by the University of Michigan, “the number of middle schools and high school students who have vaped nicotine in the past month have roughly doubled since 2017.”

Most notably, vaping among 12th graders specifically had increased from 11% to 25%. The same survey also indicated that vaping had similarly increased among college students. Between 2017 and 2018, nicotine vaping increased from 6% to 16% and marijuana vaping increased from 5% to 11%.  

Not only are the younger generations embracing vaping more than older people, but they are also less likely to believe that vaping is harmful to their health. Whereas 40% of adults ages 30 to 64 and 48% of adults over 65 said that vaping is “very harmful” to one’s health, only 22% of adults under 30 answered the same.

When people don’t understand all the risks of using a substance, it could lead to higher rates of abuse and addiction. 

Causes of Addiction in Millennials

Countless factors can lead to substance abuse. There is no foolproof method to determine who will and will not develop an addiction. Although we cannot pinpoint every cause of addiction in millennials, we can examine prevalent trends among them.

Recent research has sought to examine the causes of declining mental health in younger people and its relationship to substance abuse. This research suggests that, as a whole, millennials tend to exhibit more economic vulnerability than older generations, and socioeconomic status can be a major influence on a person’s mental health.  

People who are considered millennials grew up or came of age in an era generally defined by economic hardship following the financial crisis in 2007. They watched the average family income drop and jobs decline. Older millennials may have even lost their own jobs. Faced with a daunting job market, millennials increasingly sought higher education at a higher rate than older generations, which has led to a higher rate of student debt among younger people. The economic instability they may now be experiencing, as a result, has been linked to poorer mental health and a higher risk of addiction. 

Subsequently, depression and millennials as well as anxiety and millennials often go hand-in-hand. Although higher rates of substance abuse have been seen in all generations in the last decade, millennials overall show higher rates of binge drinking and substance abuse than older adults. Call us today if you are struggling with addiction. If you are worried about someone that is, you can also call us for additional assistance. Our experts will help you, or anyone you care about, start living their healthiest life now.

Know the Warning Signs

Addiction can manifest in a variety of ways, depending on the individual. Sometimes it can be difficult to monitor our own behaviors or notice a problem when we are in the middle of it. A highly common sign of addiction is that you have to increase the amount of the drug you take or the frequency of doses in order to get the effect you want. Furthermore, you may also be addicted if you have attempted to stop using the drug and experience negative symptoms when you do. 

Here are some other signs of addiction to look out for: 

  • Intense cravings for the drug that block out any other thoughts 
  • Daily use or using several times a day 
  • Maintaining a constant supply of the drug 
  • Spending money on the drug, even though you can’t afford it 
  • Failure to meet obligations and responsibilities because of drug use 
  • Cutting back on social or recreational activities because of drug use 
  • Continued use of the drug, even when you know it’s causing problems 
  • Risky behavior while under the influence of the drug 
  • Doing things to get the drug that you normally wouldn’t do, such as stealing 

Recognizing Addiction in Others 

It can be just as difficult to spot symptoms of addiction in others. Naturally, no one wants to jump to the worst conclusions about their loved ones. But sometimes, people with addictions are not able to see the problem themselves. The ability to recognize the behavior changes associated with addiction could help you get your loved ones the help they need as soon as possible. 

 Some possible signs of drug abuse include:  

  • Problems at school or work: frequent absences, a drop in grades/work performance, sudden disinterest in school activities 
  • Physical health issues: lack of energy and motivation, weight loss or gain, red eyes 
  • Neglected appearance: sudden lack of interest in clothing or grooming 
  • Drastic changes in behavior: exaggerated efforts to keep family members out of their room/home, secretive about where they go with friends, changes in relationships with family and friends 
  • Money issues: sudden requests for money without an explanation, stealing money 

These may be strong indications that it is time to open up the conversation about drug abuse and reach out for help. 

What Can Addiction Treatment do for Me?

The first step toward recovery, and sometimes the hardest, is asking for help.

Although it can difficult, there is no shame in reaching out. People are often much more successful in overcoming addiction when they have support and guidance. Approaches to addiction treatment are adjusted to work for each individual. Treatment focuses not only on your pattern of drug use, but also any medical, psychiatric, or social issues related to drug use so you can address the root of the problem. 

Treatment facilities offer a variety of programs that suit your needs. Some people receive outpatient treatment, which allows you to perform some of your daily responsibilities. Others benefit from inpatient or residential treatment, in which you stay at a facility for a longer period of time and receive more intensive care. When you reach out for help, an addiction specialist will help you determine your best option. 

No matter the treatment program or setting, behavioral treatment, sometimes called “talk therapy,” is often a helpful part of recovery. Behavioral therapy helps you assess your attitudes and behaviors related to drug use and learn to change them. Therapists will also help you build healthy life skills to cope with common stressors without turning to substances. Participating in therapy can help people stay in treatment longer.  Do you need more help deciding what type of treatment is best for you? Then call us today. Our experts will help you figure out what the best course of treatment is for you and your needs. 

What about medication? 

Medication is indeed part of some treatments, but not necessary in all cases. Medication can be used in numerous ways to aid in the treatment of different problems.

For example, there are medications available to treat addictions to alcohol, nicotine, and opioids. There are also medications used to treat mental health conditions, such as depression, that can contribute to substance abuse. Additionally, sometimes medication is prescribed to ease the symptoms of withdrawal when a person first stops using drugs. Whether you will need medication is something your treatment provider will help you determine.

Don’t Hesitate to Reach Out

Drug addiction is an increasingly common problem among millennials.

The use of certain substances, including vaping, has shown a general increase in the young adults of America, putting them at risk for addiction. Along with the general life stressors they face, this group of people struggles with financial burdens at a higher rate than older adults. The depression and anxiety that can result from such economic instability may put millennials at higher risk for substance abuse. Facing all these facts can be a scary prospect, but there is help available if you believe you or a loved one may be dealing with an addiction. 

A variety of treatment programs are used to treat addiction. Both outpatient and inpatient facilities provide the opportunity to address the issues at hand and develop strategies to cope with them. The important thing to remember when seeking treatment is that you are not alone.

We can help guide you to the program that is right for you, so call us today for more information on addiction treatment options in your area.  

Written by Alina Gonzalez


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