42% of Millennials Know Someone Who is Addicted to Opioids

A recent poll found that 42% of millennials know someone who has struggled with opioid addiction. This is a scary number when you consider that opioid use and addiction to other illegal substances are highly correlated events. Find out what this growing epidemic means for coming generations, and what we can do to slow the tide.

NBC News reported that 17% of the millennials polled knew someone in their immediate family that struggled with opioid addiction. 54% of the millennials polled that reported to have seen opioid addiction up close are white, compared to 30% of African-American millennials, 26% of Asian-Americans, and 23% of Latinos. The Northeast has a higher likelihood of millennials coming into contact with someone that struggles with addiction than any other region.

Why do so many millennials know someone who has struggled with abuse?

We’ve been watching opioid use grow steadily worse over the last few years. In 2016, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported that 11.5 million people reported an addiction to opioids. An unfortunate consequence of these figures is that more and more millennials are beginning to have ties to people that suffer from addiction.

Another dangerous component in the rise of opioid addiction is the rise in people who transition to more illicit substances, like meth, once the opioids stop working. Meth use is becoming a dangerous reality in communities that already struggle with opioid addiction. Meth addiction is much more difficult to treat than opioid addiction, and it can lead to dangerous and violent behavior. Based on the numbers above, it stands to reason that a good number of the 42% of millennials who know someone with an opioid problem will someday know someone who struggles with meth or other illegal substances.

What do these numbers mean for our communities?

There is a real risk that an opioid addiction can turn into an opioid overdose. Studies have shown that people who suffer from addiction are more medically frail than people who do not experiment and that those who survive an overdose are more likely to die due to a drug-related cause in the year following their overdose. Research has also shown that people who survive drug overdoses have a 25% higher suicide rate than the rest of the population. More physicians are calling attention to the fact that people who have opioid addictions are also in desperate need of mental health care as well as medical attention.

Hopefully, the more that we talk about the rates of opioid addiction in our community, the more we can raise awareness and be proactive about stopping addiction in its tracks. Discuss the dangers of drug addiction with your teen or young adult, and make sure they know how to help if someone they love is suffering from addiction.

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