Why Millennials Suffer From the Opioid Addiction Crisis

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Why Millennials Suffer From the Opioid Addiction Crisis

Did you know that Millennials struggle with opioid addiction more than other generations? As a nation, the U.S. sits nearly front and center of the world with regard to medical access. And yet, the strongest of our current generations is suffering from opioid use disorders and dying of drug overdoses.

Millennials are persons born between 1981 and 1996. Right now, they represent the largest share of the buying market as well as the workforce.

Between the years 1999 and 2019, the opioid overdose death rate among 18 to 34-year-olds increased by 500%. Over that same time frame, the increase in synthetic opioid deaths among our young adults increased by an astounding 6,000%. [1] But why?

Millennial Generation Societal Factors

Experts believe that there are several risk factors unique to the Millennial generation that had previously been nonexistent or lesser in intensity. Trust For America’s Health, an organization that approaches health as a national crisis, conducted in-depth studies on this topic.

Their reports reveal that people in their twenties and thirties have an increased vulnerability to alcohol, drugs, and suicide partly due to their construction as a human and brain development. They believe that in many cases, the brain’s frontal lobes, which house functions such as impulse control, aren’t fully developed until later into their twenties. [1]

This is also the generation that is open to taking more drug or alcohol risks. At the time of their study, correctional facility numbers showed 42% of their inmates to be between the ages of twenty and thirty-four. [1]

These are the bulk of the population who are often burdened with heavy responsibilities such as families, education and student loan debt, and careers. More than any other current generation, there are many millennials involved in high-stress environments and careers. Police officers, nurses, physicians, and enlisted military personnel are roles currently filled primarily by Millennials. [1]

Millennial Financial Factors

This is the generation that lived through their formative years during a time of financial recession and often still economically as a population. Many aren’t sure how to properly take advantage of access to treatment programs and rehabilitation sources.

Heroin is a common street drug that is even more deadly when laced with fentanyl. Fentanyl is a highly potent synthetic opioid that is more powerful than morphine. When mixed with other substances, the user is far more susceptible to an overdose.

Over the last few years, there has also been a spike in unemployment rates, financial insecurity, and natural depression related to the pandemic and other cultural concerns. These struggles can lead to substance use as means of self-medicating from the pain to escape their reality.

Millennial Opioid Addiction: What Can We Do?

There is no miracle solution to the millennial opioid addiction epidemic. But there are people in their lives who care and who can make a difference.

The founder of our rehabilitation center, Silver Sands Recovery, Lisa, personally experienced the fallout of her daughter’s drug addiction. After too long of enabling and trying to skirt the root cause of her issues, she kicked her daughter out to force her into rehab.

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That was the first of twelve different rehab facilities in their local area that her daughter attended. Lisa watched again and again as the treatment failed, and her daughter relapsed after each and every ineffective thirty-day program.

She knew there was a better way! She trekked her daughter, against all odds, across the country to a facility in Arizona, where she stayed for ninety days with careful monitoring and support. Here is where she healed.

Now empowered by her daughter’s new sobriety and a heart for other addicts still suffering through ineffective opioid treatment, Lisa founded a drug treatment center called Silver Sands Recovery. Here, we specialize in supporting the younger generations to get clean and sober.

How to Help Millennials Struggling with Opioid Addiction

Helping your loved one get treatment is essential to their health, quality of life, and very existence. As a friend or family member, that is the best way to help them.

As a society, we have more work to do. We need to reduce the volume of opioids prescribed by a doctor, offer screenings at colleges, increase insurance coverage, and prevent and treat childhood traumas to reduce Millennial opioid addiction.

We can help one person at a time by sharing stories, erasing the stigma behind substance use disorders and mental health, and recommending reputable treatment programs that work when someone is ready to get started on recovery. 



[1] https://www.tfah.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/TFAH2019_YoungAdult_PainBrief_FINAL.pdf

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