Signs of Drug Use in Young Adults
Drug abuse symptoms in young people manifest emotionally, mentally, and physically. Here are 10 of the most common signs of drug use in young adults:
- Academic problems: failing exams, skipping classes, or dropping out of classes or out of college altogether as a result of substance use
- Emotional ups and downs: extreme mood swings and sudden outbursts of anger, caused by the effects of drugs on the brain
- Depression and/or anxiety: an increase in the intensity of underlying symptoms of mental health issues, such as suicidal thoughts and feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness
- Loss of concentration and motivation: lack of focus and dedication regarding life goals and pursuits that used to be important to them
- Problems with money: asking parents or friends for money without explanation, even if they have a part- or full-time job
- Sleeping issues: oversleeping or falling asleep in class or at work, due to drug use or insomnia at night
- Withdrawal from family: difficult to contact by phone, elusive and distant in person
- New friends: developing a new friend group of peers who are also abusing drugs
- Unhealthy physical appearance: poor grooming, sallow skin, dark circles under the eyes, weight loss or gain
- Reckless behavior: unprotected sex, abusing others (emotionally, physically, or verbally), and risky behavior that leads to trouble with the law, such as vandalism, stealing, and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Underlying Causes of Drug Abuse
Why do so many young adults abuse drugs?
The culture of partying among young adults contributes to the statistics on illicit drug use. Young people may use drugs as a way of fitting in or coping with social anxiety. In addition, young adults may begin using stimulants in an attempt to perform better at sports, academics, or work.
In addition, drug use creates both physical and emotional dependencies. Consequently, young adults will experience drug cravings and eventually develop a higher tolerance for the drug. Hence, they need to use larger amounts in order to feel the high.
However, drug use in young adults isn’t just a side effect of partying or the pressure to succeed. And it can’t be chalked up to physiological addiction alone. In fact, substance abuse is a co-occurring disorder associated with mental health issues such as trauma, PTSD, depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and other diagnoses. Research shows that drug abuse and mental health are closely intertwined. Mental health issues typically underlie drug abuse, while drug abuse exacerbates the symptoms of existing mental health issues. Young adults who use drugs—regardless of which substance they use—are significantly more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression. Moreover, people with substance abuse are five times more likely to have bipolar disorder compared to those who do not abuse drugs.
What drugs do young adults abuse?
According to the SAMHSA report, these are the most commonly used drugs among young people ages 18 to 25:
- Alcohol, specifically binge drinking: 34.9 percent of this age group
- Marijuana: 34.8 percent
- Cigarettes: 19.1 percent
- Hallucinogens: 6.9 percent
- Prescription stimulants: 6.5 percent
- Cocaine: 5.8 percent
- Opioids: 5.6 percent
- Misused pain relievers: 5.5 percent
- Tranquilizers or sedatives: 4.9 percent
- Prescription benzodiazepines: 4.5 percent
- Inhalants: 1.5 percent
- Methamphetamines: .8 percent
Diagnosis and Treatment of Young Adult Drug Abuse
Taking the first step toward drug abuse treatment can be scary. However, addiction and substance abuse, along with associated mental health issues, don’t get better on their own.
What will I experience in an assessment and intake at a drug abuse treatment center?
A comprehensive assessment for young adult drug abuse includes a full physical exam as well as an in-depth discussion of your behavior patterns, psychological symptoms, and family history. You’ll also talk about treatments for drug abuse, which include:
- Detox: ridding the body of drugs as a first step in sustainable recovery
- Intensive outpatient or outpatient programming
- Residential treatment for drug abuse, also known as rehab.
What to Expect in Young Adult Drug Treatment
Effective, sustainable drug abuse treatment for this age group addresses every aspect of psychological and behavioral health, in order to increase young adults’ emotional, spiritual, relational, and physical well-being. Moreover, comprehensive drug rehab programs for young adults utilize a wide range of evidence-based clinical and experiential therapeutic modalities.
The first step in treating drug addictions is detoxing from substances. Once detoxing is complete, drug abuse treatment can begin in earnest. Expert mental health professionals support young adults to uncover the root causes of their drug abuse—most often trauma, depression, and/or anxiety. In addition to attending individual and group therapy sessions, they build life skills and gain tools for healthy coping and self-regulation.
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Drug Abuse Treatment at Newport Institute
At Newport Institute, each young adult is assigned a treatment team that designs an individual treatment plan customized to their unique needs and history. Throughout treatment, our team of caring, compassionate experts guides you in building self-knowledge and self-compassion using powerful healing modalities.
- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy help young adults to shift their damaging thinking and behavior patterns and build new, healthy habits and coping mechanisms.
- EMDR and other trauma-focused modalities help clients process the underlying trauma that often triggers drug use in young adults.
- In group experiences such as Adventure Therapy and music therapy, young adults increase their sense of connection and community, counteracting the loneliness and isolation that typically accompanies drug abuse.
- Family therapy repairs disrupted parent-child relationships, so young people can turn to their parents for support even as they build autonomous lives and form fulfilling relationships outside the family.
- Life skills training provides young adults with the mindset and executive functioning skills they need to thrive and to find meaning and purpose as they enter the next stage of life.
Marks of Quality Care
Our innovative approach to mental healthcare earns accolades from press around the world, but it is our dedication to our client success that has helped us achieve accreditation from The Joint Commission, exceed licensing standards of care, and nurture affiliations with the following: