Millennials, also sometimes referred to as Generation Y, are categorized by their coming of age at the turn of the millennium. The actual birth years of the millennials vary from 1980-1984 until 2002-2004. As of 2017 the oldest millennials will be 37 and the youngest 13 years old. They grew up with technology and are said to be less religiously affiliated than any generation prior. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), says that millennials use fewer drugs and less alcohol than their parents’ peers did. Teenage drug use declined by more than 34% between 1993 and 2013, a time period that encompasses the teenage years of almost all millennials. That does not mean that millennials do not abuse drugs. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) found that for millennials the most commonly abused drugs are prescription drugs and prescription painkillers. Prescription opioid abuse, overdose, and death are plaguing the entire country, and Utah has seen it as an epidemic. To learn more about the opiate abuse in Utah, check out our blog “Utah’s Struggle with Opiate Abuse.”
Millennials, Mental Health & Addiction
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) there has been an increasing trend in mental health issues among millennials. With these increasing mental health illness diagnosis, there has also been an increase in the medications prescribed for them. The drugs being abused by millennials are not actually illegal but are being given to them by their doctors. Most people who suffer from anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues are simply given a prescription and the real problem is simply swept under the rug. These problems are not actually addressed, recent studies show that 57 percent of mental health patients are treated with medications without any form of psychotherapy. This leaves the problem untreated and a new dependency on the prescriptions, without knowing the mental or physical damage being done to the patient. Another thing often overlooked or ignored is the growing dependency as well as the increasing tolerance which leads to higher doses. To learn more about prescription drugs, click here.
Millennials & Prescription Drugs
Many of these people have their own prescription but if they do not, their friends or family member does. With the majority of millennials being in college or just out of college and trying to enter into the recently recovering economy job market. Many college students and employees abuse adderall as a means to get more work done. The stresses of finding a job, doing well in school, and paying off student loans can also leave millennials feeling anxious and depressed. The legal drugs being used to treat these problems are being over prescribed and people are not handling them properly. Patients are either becoming addicted themselves, sharing their prescriptions with others, or having their prescriptions stolen by others that have access. While some of these prescriptions can help under the right circumstances, most of the time they are not used in this way. People without prescriptions are getting their hands on them in order to escape everyday tasks and feelings. Some millennials will abuse prescriptions solely so they don’t have to deal with the feelings after a breakup, the stress of work, or the tiredness from staying up late. It is important to remember that we are only human and as such we feel a full range of emotions and ranges of energy and focus. The people who need the prescriptions should work with a doctor who understands the benefits and the disadvantages of each drug and their doses. They should also recommend some sort of psychotherapy to address the issue as well. As patients, people expect their physician to take care of them and know what they are doing with your best interest in mind, but sometimes things are miscommunicated or not diagnosed correctly. Taking prescription medication as prescribed and making sure any left overs are disposed of correctly are important. Prescriptions should never be shared with someone else.
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Some people believe that millennials are abusing prescription drugs because they are seen as less dangerous than illicit drugs simply because doctors are recommending them. Another reason is because of social media. Millennials were the first generation to grow up with social media and their whole lives broadcasted online. With so many people having access to their life, events, and constant thoughts, people try to put their best foot forward. With that constant access, millennials may feel a greater sense to avoid “negative stereotypes” with drugs. If their doctor prescribed them a opiate painkiller like Oxycodone for pain it is different than if they go find heroin on the street, when in reality they are both equally dangerous and destructive. Some people believe that millennials simply don’t find illicit drugs as mysterious or intriguing. Many millennial’s parents were baby boomers who used these illicit drugs heavily and were then either open about their drug use with their children or their children saw what happened to their parents after the use. To learn more about drug use amongst baby boomers read our blog “Baby Boomers and Substance Abuse.” With new prescriptions being released to the public everyday, with many side effects not being noticed until years later, it is no wonder people are worried. Prescription drugs are becoming more commonly used and with that, more and more cases of addiction and overdose are being brought public. There are direct links between prescription drugs and illicit drugs. People become addicted to their prescriptions but can find a cheaper illicit option that has the same or similar effect they desire. Just because something is prescribed by a doctor does not mean that it is entirely safe with no consequences and should always only be taken as directed by the person it is prescribed to.
Utah Poison Control Center: 24 Hour Service (1-800-222-1222) Use Only as Directed Find Location Near You to Turn in Unused Medication (1-800-882-9539)