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Millennials and Opioid Addiction

by Nick

Since the late 1990s, alcohol and drug-related deaths, as well as suicide, have steadily been on the rise for people from all age groups and every community. Data published by the non-profit Trust for America’s Health suggests that the impact on those in their 20s and 30s is particularly pronounced. These young adults born between the years 1981 and 1996 are known as millennials.

Over the course of a single decade, from 2007 to 2017, millennials have seen a 35% increase in the number of suicide deaths and a 69% increase in the number of alcohol-induced deaths. However, the most surprising statistic is the number of drug-related deaths, which has increased by 108% among millennials. Prescription opioids have risen in prominence as this generation’s most commonly misused drug.

As prescription opioid misuse continues to plague the United States, millennials could be at greater risk of addiction than ever.

Why Opioid Addiction Has Been Devastating for Millennials

The report by Trust for America’s Health shows that America’s opioid epidemic has devastated millennials over the last 20 years. Not only has the rate of fatal opioid overdoses risen by 500%, but those involving synthetic opioids has soared by a staggering 6,000%.

Why are millennials particularly at risk for drug misuse, especially with prescription opioids? These tragic statistics are not a coincidence. Young people today face a variety of risk factors that are different from previous generations and can lead to feelings of despair and hopelessness.

Student Loan Debt

Young people are trying to start their lives under the massive weight of student loan debt. Because the cost of higher education continues to skyrocket, 40% of millennials have outstanding student loans. That means nearly half of their income goes toward loan payments. For those just starting their careers, this creates a huge financial strain. This debt reduces their ability to buy a home, afford car payments and even start a family.

Risky Behaviors

Youth is characterized by risky behavior taking, which may be related to the brain’s continued development. The frontal lobe, which controls key functions like impulse control, is not fully developed until a person’s mid to late 20s. Millennials may be more at risk of drug use compared with adults from the previous generations.

Ease of Access

More than half of young adults in the millennial generation believe it is easy to gain access to illegal opioids. This ease of access only serves to fuel opioid misuse.

Financial Instability

Millennials begin their careers with few financial safety nets, especially when compared to previous generations. Even though one-third of the nation’s workforce are millennials, they face a considerable number of hurdles leading to financial insecurity, including:

  • Crippling unemployment rates
  • Difficulty establishing a career
  • High costs of health care and health insurance
  • Rising housing costs
  • Raising children on low wages
  • Economic strain caused by the Great Recession

The Importance of an Opioid Treatment Program for Millennials

Because of the overwhelming factors facing millennials, the report published by The Trust for America’s Health recommends several actions that could improve this generation’s outlook. One of the most important suggestions is improving access to treatment to help millennials overcome opioid use disorder.

If you or a loved one is struggling with opioid addiction, don’t hesitate to contact Health Care Resource Centers today. We specialize in medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder. To find out more, reach out to HCRC online or give us a call at 866.758.7769.

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