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Gen Z and Addiction – Addiction Center


Drug addiction can affect anyone, including the youngest among us. Much like Millennials, Generation Z (Gen Z) are at higher risk of developing a drug problem than earlier age groups. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 23.6% of 12th graders used illicit drugs in 2015. Alcohol is also a problem. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that over 4.2 million people between the ages of 12 and 20 confessed to binge drinking.

Why is Gen Z at high risk of addiction?

Why is Gen Z such a high risk of addiction? Many claim it is the loneliness or obsession of the generation of social media. Others believe it is an age group problem. Almost 90% of drug use disorders start in their teens. The Justice Department reports that 1 in 6 teenagers have taken prescription drugs to get high or change their mood.

To make matters worse, only 6% of adolescents state that they have a child who has abused drugs. However, 10% of adolescents admit to having misused drugs. Yet there is more than one factor that contributes to the vulnerability of adolescents and young adults. Below are some possible reasons Generation Z is turning to drugs and alcohol.

Priceless health care

Generation Z, also known as Zoomers, is well on its way to being one of the most unhealthy generations due to lack of access to affordable health care. For example, although 10% of zoomers in the US have major depression, only 40% received the care they need. Of these 40%, only 27.3% received consistent treatment. Gen Z may be young, but they’re not immune to disease or disorder. Over time, the generation’s lack of access to medical treatment will have a negative impact on their lives. Conditions such as substance use disorders can worsen and reduce your chance of living a healthy and fulfilling life.

Mental health

Generation Z is one of the most depressed people in history. During their primitive years and youth, they faced mass shootings, political unrest, and racial inequality. The TikTok-loving teens and young adults are stressed out, burned out, and their mental health is deteriorating. Almost 10% of American zoomers have major depression. In this age group, 60% received no psychiatric treatment. Unfortunately, failure to treat mental illness in adolescence extends into adulthood. The problems worsen and can prevent the individual from leading a full life.

Declining mental health exposes the age group to riskier behaviors such as substance abuse. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 70% of teens have tried alcohol by their senior year. Within the same age group, 2 in 10 reported taking prescription drugs without a prescription. Research shows that substance abuse during adolescence is an indicator of addiction in adulthood. The sooner someone starts using drugs or alcohol, the more likely they are to continue using them as they get older.

Social media

Social media sites like Instagram have long been associated with millennials. But in recent years, TikTok has become one of the most popular platforms in the world. Its main audience is none other than Gen Z. Viral trends define the TikTok world. Unfortunately, some moves like the Benadryl challenge where users abuse diphenhydramine and post their experiences are dangerous. In September 2020, a 15-year-old girl in Oklahoma died after participating in the challenge and overdosing. According to a report from Harvard University, sharing experiences, dreams, or thoughts on social platforms triggers part of the brain that is linked to addiction. Social media has the power to chronically expose its users to viral videos showing influencers using drugs. Its ability to do so and trigger the brain’s reward area is one possible reason the Zoomers have an uphill battle against addiction.

The future of Gen Z and the rise in addiction

Zoomers have a long way to go as they keep growing and expanding. You have experienced a lot of trauma at such an early age, with no or no support. These are just a few factors that make Gen Z susceptible to chronic alcohol and drug use. Since this is a newer generation, there is still time and hope. However, you will face myriad challenges such as health care reform, global warming and addiction.

If you or a loved one is addicted, please contact us. Don’t wait a second longer to get the help you or your loved ones deserve. Contact a specialist treatment provider. They answer your rehab questions and help you find options. Take a step towards recovery and contact a treatment provider today. The help you need is just a phone call away.


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