Millennials: Taking Very New Paths on Their Addiction Journey – The Good Men Project (blog)

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Would you guess millennials have been praised for being the generation least interested in drugs and alcohol?

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Millennials have been praised for being the generation least interested in drugs and alcohol. Yet it is unlikely an entire generation skipped developing addictive personalities. Instead, millennials just have their preferred drugs.

Forget Psychedelics, Millennials Use Prescription

Unlike the ‘70s where hippies, psychedelic drugs, and tie dye were the hallmarks of the generation, millennials turn to prescription drugs to find their fix. This in and of itself is an interesting choice. Instead of turning to drugs that allow for escapism, millennials abuse prescription painkillers and psychotherapeutics to muscle through their lives.

While moving towards understand mental health issues has allowed for more people to receive treatment, it has also normalized using prescribed drugs to handle these issues. An aspect of the problem is the sheer availability of prescription drugs. With almost 70% of Americans taking a prescribed drug, it is a slippery slope from using a prescription as the doctor ordered, to developing a dependence on the drug to get through the day.

Part of this abuse has been linked to the rise in mental health issues among millennials. There are no clear reasons why they struggle more with mental health as a generation, but there are plenty of theories:

  • Entering the workforce during one of the worst economic slumps has turned millennials to drugs like Adderall so they can focus on work and outdo the competition for the few jobs available.
  • Helicopter parenting has left them unable to deal with the toughness of life and they use painkillers like Vicodin to dull painful realities.
  • Social media has been linked to the rise in mental health issues among several age groups, not just millennials; however, as they are the generation growing up with it, they are taking the biggest hit.

Technology: The Real Millennial Addiction

Ask a millennial if they would try a technology fast and they may look at you like you asked if they would go without oxygen for a few days. The jump from technology use to addiction is obvious among millennials.

Take this staggering percentage for instance: 39% of millennials say they interact more with their smartphones than with people. That blows my mind. I can’t imagine anything taking attention away from interacting with my loved ones.

But for millennials, this is the norm. They have a false sense of connectivity from interaction on social media and figure that’s good enough. Millennials may not even realize that connecting online for the majority of their interactions isn’t normal behavior. Yet social media can ruin relationships by:

  • Disconnecting users from real-life and expecting life to look like their Instagram feed: polished and perfect at all times.
  • Lowering in-person conversation skills, which result in weaker relationships.
  • Skewing priorities towards the latest Snapchat instead of the face-to-face relationship.

Millennials are rarely disconnected from their tech, using it for gaming, conversation, entertainment, and even grocery shopping! Above all else, technology is the millennial’s drug of choice.

Parents Facing Children’s Addictions

On the one hand, it is nice to know parents now are less likely to deal with a child becoming high on meth or even sneaking cigarettes. But parents should be ready to deal with the new addiction paths their children will likely fall into as the millennials have.

Some ways parents can help their children avoid following the millennials’ addiction habits:

  • Unplug – Take the occasional technology fast as a family. Teaching your children (and yourself!) not to be so reliant on technology for all your needs is important to help them avoid future addictive habits.
  • Monitor prescriptions – Whether you have a prescription or you child does, monitor the usage of the prescription. Part of the popularity of prescription drugs is the overwhelming availability and normalcy of these drugs.
  • Engage life – Encourage your children to engage in face-to-face activities on a regular basis; be it sports, crafts, music or other hobbies. The more in-person time your child spends with others, the better they will be at handling future relationships with others.

It’s not easy being a parent and trying to help your children avoid the pitfalls of other generations, but it is possible.

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Photo credit: Getty Images

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