Fewer Young Adults Abuse Alcohol

alcohol use disorder

Alcohol and marijuana are mind-altering substances that can significantly impact the course of one’s life. Both are legal for adults to use, but they are not without their risks. Moreover, those who begin using at a young age are apt to experience a myriad of consequences. 


Disordered drinking is one of the leading causes of premature death, and more than 88,000 Americans die from alcohol-related causes each year. Marijuana use, like alcohol, affects people’s cognition and is addictive. Protracted use can lead to a cannabis use disorder later in life. 


While marijuana is often termed the gateway drug to “harder” substances, alcohol is more commonly used first. Alcohol is the preferred substance of young people who attend parties. Alcohol use can result in life-altering consequences, such as DUIs and fatal car wrecks. 


Teenagers and young adults who use alcohol regularly are at risk of developing an alcohol use disorder and other health problems associated with heavy alcohol use. It’s not uncommon for heavy drinkers to develop conditions like pancreatitis in their twenties; some thirty-year-olds have cirrhosis of the liver. Both conditions are not to be taken lightly. 


Those who begin drinking at a young age place their developing brains at risk. Some may struggle with cognitive problems that will make it more challenging to finish high school and transition to college. It’s worth remembering that the brain is not fully developed until a person’s mid-twenties. 


Each person is unique, and there is no way to predict how alcohol will influence one’s life. No amount of alcohol is safe; the longer one can abstain from alcohol, the better. Those who abstain from alcohol into adulthood tend to experience fewer negative consequences associated with drinking. 


It’s Possible to Abstain from Alcohol


Drinking alcohol in high school and college is a common occurrence. Getting drunk during the weekend is often viewed as a right of passage, but it need not be. It’s possible to traverse one’s formative years without imbibing; many young people are proving that to be true. 


A new study from the University of Michigan (U-M) and Texas State University found that the number of college-age Americans who are abstaining from alcohol is increasing, according to a university news release. Moreover, alcohol abuse among young adults in college and non-college students decreased by roughly half between 2002 and 2018. The findings are published in JAMA Pediatrics


Researchers found that the number of young adults – aged 18-22 – who abstained from alcohol increased from 20% to 28% for those in college and from about 24% to 30% for those not in college. Unfortunately, the data indicate that marijuana use and co-use of alcohol and marijuana increased. 


“We’re encouraged by the significant decreases in alcohol use disorder—for both college and non-college students,” said lead author Sean Esteban McCabe, director of the Center for the Study of Drugs, Alcohol, Smoking and Health at the U-M School of Nursing. “The prevalence of alcohol use disorder in both groups in 2018 was roughly half of what it was in 2002. We are excited to learn about these drops in disordered drinking, as alcohol-related consequences are one of the leading causes of mortality and morbidity for young adults.” 


Young Adult Addiction Treatment Program


Alcohol use disorder is a treatable condition, and long-term recovery is possible for all who are willing to take the first step. At Hemet Valley Recovery Center, we offer age-specific addiction treatment programs. Our Young Adult Addiction Treatment Program focuses on the specific needs and sensitivities of the emerging adult. 


Please contact us today if you or a loved one is struggling with an alcohol use disorder. Take the first step by calling us at 866-273-0868 for a chemical dependency treatment evaluation.