Parents may breathe a sigh of relief once their children have safely navigated their teens from high school into young adulthood.
Of course a parent’s job is never done.
The risk of substance use in college and among college-age young adults is higher on average than in high school. Some young people never or rarely experiment with substances during their teen years, but may begin doing so after leaving home. College life is rife with substance use, with alcohol and marijuana use becoming very common.
What’s the best way to help?
Start by learning the details of addiction among young adults.
Why are young adults especially at risk for addiction?
Young adults living independently for the first time are routinely exposed to substances when socializing with their peers. During the young adult years, especially at college, behaviors like binge drinking are prevalent. Young adults aren’t just consuming alcohol during this time, this age group also uses marijuana, hallucinogenic “party” drugs, stimulants and various other substances recreationally.
Although not all young adults who experiment with substances will become addicted, about half a million people in the 18-25 year old age group will. Addiction can take root as a result of chronic substance use, whether using Adderall as a study aid or using alcohol to ease social interactions. Consistent consumption of a substance leads to increased tolerance, which can lead to addiction.
What are the signs of addiction in young adults?
While the specific signs of addiction in young adults vary depending on the substance, there are some common behavioral, psychological and physical signs to pay attention to.
- Neglecting their responsibilities: A young adult caught up in a substance use disorder will begin to care less about their obligations, whether at college or their job.
- Withdrawing socially: As the substance begins to take over, the young adult begins to withdraw from friends and family, preferring to use the substance without interference from loved ones.
- Having impaired judgment: The young adult may engage in reckless, impulsive and sometimes criminal behaviors.
- Obsessing over the substance: The young adult becomes obsessed with obtaining and using the substance.
- Lying about substance use: When confronted about the substance problem, the young adult will deny the claims about how much they are consuming.
- Developing money problems: A young adult that is caught up in a substance use disorder will experience financial strain due to the costs associated with drug consumption.
- Hanging out with a different crowd: When involved in substance use, the young adult may spend less time with friends in favor of spending time with those who engage in substance use.
- Increasing consumption: As tolerance builds, the young adult will consume increasing amounts of the substance in an attempt to experience similar effects.
- Attempting unsuccessfully to quit: A young adult that realizes their substance use is becoming a problem may attempt to cut back or quit, but be unable to do so.
- Having withdrawal symptoms: A young adult that has developed a substance use disorder will begin to exhibit withdrawal symptoms when the substance is not available.
If you recognize some of these signs in your young adult child, know that there is help available to guide them back to health and wellness.
Ashley Addiction Treatment, formerly Father Martin’s Ashley, is a nationally recognized nonprofit leader in integrated, evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders. Our programs are accredited by The Joint Commission, and result in frequent publications of ongoing research into effective treatment methodologies. We offer holistic care that encompasses the mind, body and spirit through inpatient and outpatient treatment, provide drug detox, relapse prevention plans, family wellness programs and a variety of other services tailored to each patient’s unique needs. Our driving principle — “everything for recovery” — reinforces our mission to transform and save lives through the science of medicine, the art of therapy and the compassion of spirituality, and is complemented by our philosophy of healing with respect and dignity. For information about our comprehensive programs, please call 866-313-6307.