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April: Substance Use and Young Adults
Young adulthood. It’s a time of growth, exploration and independence. For those in the age range of 18 to 26, this is the time when they begin to chart their own course. They may be away from parents for the first time, starting college, full-time work or new families, where they will make the choices that will shape their lives. This includes deciding whether to use alcohol or drugs.
The combination of newfound independence and the pressures of school or new careers can lead to risky behaviors. For example, research shows that people tend to drink the heaviest in their late teens and early to mid-20s. And the rates of illicit drug use are higher in young adults than in any other age group. You may know a young person who is having trouble with drinking or drug use, but keep in mind that help with prevention and recovery is available.
In this issue of Your Source, you’ll learn how to:
- Spot the warning signs of alcohol and drug use
- Help the young adult cope with the problem
- Tap into resources that can help with recovery
Your guidance and open communication is helpful to a young person who is independent, yet struggling with substance use. Although he or she may not approve of your concern at first, you can play a positive role in his or her recovery.
Log on to access Substance Use and Young Adults and other helpful resources in the Spotlight section, and share this with your co-workers and family members.
Taking action to help the young adult
When a young person has a problem with drugs or alcohol, it’s important to act as soon as possible. The sooner people get help, the greater their chances for recovery. First, it’s important to learn as much as you can about what is involved in overcoming substance use. Some helpful sources are shown here.
Intervene to Begin the Recovery Process
It often is not easy for the young person to admit that help for substance abuse is needed. When a person is reluctant to seek help, you may need to carefully confront him or her. This can be done along with other family members and friends. It’s good to outline the problems the person will likely face in work, family and long-term health if he or she does not get treatment. The goal is to have the young person accept help and begin recovery.
Treatment Help is Available
Substance use treatment can be provided in a variety of settings. Stopping the alcohol or drug use is the first step to recovery. Most people need help to stop. Often a person with alcohol or drug dependence will need treatment provided by professionals, just as with other diseases. The person’s doctor may be able to offer guidance. Or he or she could see a mental health provider.
Be There to Offer Support
Whether he or she uses self-help, therapy or a treatment program, the young person will need ongoing support in recovery. Family, close friends, therapists and even other recovering people can provide encouragement and guidance. If you notice a young person going back into substance use, talk about it openly and ask what you can do to help. Recovering from a substance problem doesn’t end with a brief treatment program. It is a lifelong process. Joining support groups can be very helpful in battling addiction.