According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a December 2012 survey shows that young adult drug abuse rates are low. However, there are some areas that aren’t as hopeful. In order to keep young adult drug abuse low, we have to make the dangers of the more popular drugs better publicized.
The most commonly abused drug by young adults is marijuana. Along with the rise in its popularity, the NIDA found that it had a corresponding decrease in perceived risk. That is, as young adults consider it less and less dangerous, they use it more. An addiction to marijuana does not often produce a strong sense of urgency to seek drug or alcohol abuse help. Although it is not as dangerous as other addictive, mood-altering drugs like heroin or cocaine, marijuana isn’t harmless.
While marijuana doesn’t carry the risk of overdose or dangerous withdrawal, using it distorts perception of time and space, which can make a marijuana user behind the wheel of a car very dangerous. It also inhibits memory and the ability to learn new information. This is very problematic for a young adult, since addiction to marijuana will likely mean they will be unable to focus in school and perform poorly on tests and assignments.
More immediately dangerous to a young adult’s health is abuse of prescription drugs. Almost every home has a prescription drug of some type in it. All someone has to do is sneak a pill from time to time. In addition, many young adults aren’t aware of how dangerous prescription drug abuse is. A smart, informed young adult who knows not to abuse dangerous drugs like cocaine or heroin might not be aware that an abused prescription drug is often just as harmful.
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The problem is one of image: no one who knows about heroin would think taking it is safe or without consequences. But prescription drugs are legitimized by their being medicine. They’re given by licensed doctors, not drug dealers on street corners. But when these drugs are used non-medically, they can be just as dangerous and deadly. Opioid painkillers, which are prescribed with frightening frequency, are incredibly addictive. If a young adult becomes addicted to them, they’ll do anything to keep taking opioids. If the pill supply runs out, it’s all too common for them to turn to the more readily available heroin.
Talking to young adults about the dangers of addiction and about where they can find drug or alcohol abuse help are some of most effective ways of making sure they don’t fall victim to addiction. It’s not an easy conversation to have, but it can be one of the most important ones of your loved one’s life.