Mental Illness And Addiction: Which Came First?
Olivia Pennelle ❘
It was only in recovery that I truly understood the correlation between mental illness and addiction and was able to fully recover.
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by Suzette Gomez | ❘
Drug addiction can affect anyone. No one is exempt from the risk for developing an addiction, or substance use disorder (SUD). Still, unlike Gen X or Baby Boomers, Millennials are more likely to develop a substance abuse problem. For the past 10 years, the generation’s substance abuse rates have skyrocketed. According to the Trust for America’s Health and Well Being, from 2006 to 2015, drug-related deaths climbed by 108%, while fatal alcohol poisoning surged to 69%.
Why are Millennials at such a high risk for addiction? There is no one answer. Many factors could have led to the generation’s vulnerability to substance abuse. According to a study published by the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, from 2006 to 2015, drug overdoses among Millennials rose nearly 20%. There were 36,422 fatalities related to drug use of American teens and young adults within the study period. Below are some possible contributors to why so many Millennials are turning towards drugs and alcohol to cope.
Leading the adoption of social media was none other than Millennials. In 2005, only 5% of adults in the United States used social media. Today, over 80% of Americans have a social networking profile. Checking and scrolling through platforms is now a daily ritual practiced by millions. Still, with all that fast growth also came its challenges.
Research shows that there is a negative correlation between social media use, mental health, and addiction. According to a study published by Harvard University, sharing personal information like thoughts or dreams on social platforms triggers a portion of the brain associated with addiction. Frequently using social sites is also proven to expose users to high rates of stimuli that encourage drug use. The exposure to these triggers and social media’s ability to trigger the reward area in the brain is one possible reason why the pioneer generation is battling addiction.
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Financial hardship has plagued the Baby Boomer’s offspring. The generation is burdened with student debt, high living costs, and low wages. Most of them came of age or graduated from college during the Great Recession when the housing market crumbled, and jobs were scarce. Compared to previous generations, Millennials make less when adjusting for inflation. The exploding costs of education, housing, and general costs have left many stressed and depressed. The affordability crisis the young adults are battling impacts their mental health. As a way of coping, many turn to drugs or alcohol.
Though most millennials are relatively young, they are not immune to diseases. Data published by Blue Cross Blue Shield discovered that millennials are on track to be one of the unhealthiest generations ever. One-third of the age group has health conditions that are likely to increase the mortality rate by 40%. The rise in disorders is predicted to expand health care costs by more than 33%. In turn, this would reduce the Millennials’ annual income by nearly $4,500 per person. Sadly, the lack of support to make healthcare affordable adds stress to the young adults and makes receiving treatment for conditions like addiction less likely.
Based on Blue Cross Blue Shield, The Health of America Report®, the most prominent growing health condition among Millennials is major depression. Major depression diagnoses among the group increased by 47% since 2013. The same report discovered that the physical and mental health of the young generation is declining at a fast rate. Stress, anxiety, and depression are among the top ten biggest negative contributors to the generation’s health. Unfortunately, the trifecta interferes with decision-making and is highly correlated with substance abuse and relapse.
Given that Millennials are battling financial debt, heavy consumption of social media, and many other unique problems, it is no surprise they are struggling with addiction. Though the generation is the most educated group, they earn considerably low wages, are under extreme stress levels, and receive little to no support. These are only some factors that make Millennials prone to chronic alcohol and drug use. But, all hope is not lost. There are options available for individuals battling addiction.
If you or a loved one are battling addiction, do not wait another moment to reach out for help. Contact a treatment provider. Take a step towards recovery by contacting a treatment provider today.
Suzette Gomez earned her Bachelor of Science from the University of Central Florida. Her desire to help others led her to a Pre-medical track with a focus on psychological and social development. After graduation, she pursued her passion for writing and began working as a Digital Content Writer at Recovery Worldwide LLC. With her background in medicine, Suzette uses both science and the arts to serve the public through her writing.
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