Substance misuse is when a person uses a prescription medication in ways that it was not prescribed. Substance abuse, meanwhile, is the illicit use of any drug. Neither misuse nor abuse guarantees the presence or even the potential development of an addiction. However, substance misuse and abuse in young adults always pose a risk of ending in addiction or overdose. Substance misuse is often identifiable by watching for a variety of signs. The earlier substance misuse is recognized, the quicker a young adult can be connected to sources of support and addiction prevention. Reach out to BoardPrep Recovery Center® at 866.796.4720 to learn more about drug rehab programs for young adults.
Signs of Substance Misuse in Young Adults
Substance misuse is often harder to identify compared to outright substance abuse. That is because misuse stems from a legal prescription. Sports injuries are one of the most common ways for teens to be prescribed a medication that is dangerous to misuse. Opioids are commonly prescribed as a pain reliever for injuries or following intense surgery. That’s fine so long as the patient uses it as their doctor directed. But opioids are also highly addictive, and it is easy to develop a tolerance.
Young adults who develop tolerance may take more than their prescription calls for or seek something stronger like heroin to produce the same effects over time. The same escalation can be true in other scenarios, like when a teen receives a prescription for an anti-anxiety medication to treat a mental health disorder.
Here are four signs of substance misuse in young adults.
1. Sudden Behavioral Changes
The first one on this list is also the most challenging. Adolescence is already a time of major emotional and physical development. Sudden behavioral changes and erratic behavior are, to an extent, par for the course. However, this is still an area to watch for. The best way to determine if a young adult’s behavioral changes stem from substance misuse or just the complications of the teen years is to communicate with them.
2. Loss of Interest in Activities or Slipping Grades
Drug use has a way of taking over someone’s life and keeping them away from the things that previously brought joy. A warning sign that a young adult may be misusing or even abusing drugs is a seemingly random loss of interest in their favorite hobbies or activities. Furthermore, in the case of the straight-A student, slipping grades may be another indicator of substance misuse.
3. Lethargy or Pervasiveness Tiredness
Side effects of some prescription drugs include drowsiness, especially in anti-anxiety medications. Commonly called sedatives, this class of drugs may also help treat sleep disorders. Misuse of this type of drug can result in constant lethargy or tiredness. Young adults experiencing side effects from taking their prescriptions doesn’t mean they are misusing them. But when the side effects seem out of proportion to what your doctor indicated, that can be a sign of substance misuse.
4. Worsening Hygiene
Hygiene is another aspect of lifestyle and personal care that drug misuse often causes to slip. You may want to pay careful attention to hygiene changes, as declines over time can signal substance abuse in young adults.
Why Should You Seek Young Adult Addiction Treatment?
The best time to seek help is prior to an addiction taking hold. However, even after a young adult develops an addiction, not all is hopeless. Many evidence-based treatments exist. A growing number of addiction treatment centers even specialize in young adult addiction treatment.
The pervasiveness of mental health disorders in young adults means young adult addiction treatment often involves a dual diagnosis. A dual diagnosis occurs when someone has both a mental health disorder and a substance abuse disorder. Treating both simultaneously is paramount to successful recovery.
- Young adult addiction treatment focuses include:
- Completing a medical detox
- Engaging in behavioral and family therapy
- Developing life skills and coping strategies
- Creating an aftercare plan grounded in relapse prevention
Begin Healing at BoardPrep Recovery Center®
The longer an addiction goes unaddressed, the deeper its hold on a person’s life becomes. Connecting young adults to sources of healing and recovery as soon as possible can result in recovery that transforms their future outlook. Contact BoardPrep Recovery Center® at 866.796.4720 to learn more about how we tackle substance abuse in young adults.