In communities across America, substance use and abuse is becoming an all too common reality among young adults with little to no attempt at prevention.
According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, some children start using drugs at ages 12 or 13 years old. Meaning that many young adults start using commonly at a young age.
A young adult between the age of 12 and 13 years old is at risk for developing a substance use disorder if they begin to experiment at a young age. According to prevention specialist, David Fialko, young adults are at a high risk for developing a substance use disorder if they begin to experiment with drugs at a young age.
“The goal of prevention is to delay that on set of first use,” Fialko said. “The earlier that a person uses a substance, the more likelihood that they will end up using and abusing it more frequently and resulting in potential dependence or addiction.”
Preventing drug abuse among youth
In order to prevent drug use and abusive behavior before it starts, we need to incorporation prevention strategies into the everyday lives of young adults.
“I think we just need to figure out how to get the kids early enough,” Deborah Motika, head of quality assurance at DrugScan, said. “To think that the only time you could have fun is to get high there’s something wrong with that. Whether it be getting kids involved with sports, community activities or if religion helps or something like that — but a lot of it goes to the parents , it’s a shame, it really is.”
“I know at my son’s high school, his graduating class three of his classmates are now dead from heroin overdose and one was his best friend,” Motika said. “Why do some kids call into it and why do some manage to survive? I don’t know the answer to that either. If we could figure that out we can get this next generation half of this crazy belief that drugs are the answer to things.”
Establishing medication drop boxes and assuring that medication does not fall into the wrong hands are two strategies that parents and young adults should take seriously in their households.
“My goal is for physicians to understand that when they give their patients pain medication, they have to make sure they’re taking it. I’m not diverting it,” Motika said. “They have to test their patients and the doctors don’t understand that [because some people will sell it]. We’ve had situations where family members were stealing the drugs and administering other types of pain medications to their elderly family members like heroin.”
The drug abuse problem in America has become so large in scale. By taking small steps to decrease how many Americans may or may not engage in abusive behavior, we can become one step closer to finding a fix.
“There are 345 million people in America and there are 245 scripts written in-office for opioid pain medications last year. It is enough for a bottle in every family,” Fialko said. “We need to scale back.
“I don’t think drugs are ever going to go away,” Vanessa Starr, federal parole/probation officer, said. [Opium] existed forever, so I think it’s flawed logic to think the problem is ever going to evaporate. But, I think people need to be made aware of how dangerous they really are and how potent they’ve become. The marijuana that someone smoked in 1960 is not the same marijuana that someone is going to smoke in 2017. The dangers that come along with the advancement of all those drugs are greater,” Starr said.
Written by: Jaclyn Labes