As a young adult, you have your whole life ahead of you. Graduation, college, and starting your adult life are exciting experiences to look forward to, but this period also comes with pressure and stress. Combined with the risk-taking behavior in teens, this combination can lead to alcohol use disorder in young adults.1 Learn more about alcohol use disorder in youth and the options for California alcohol rehab centers.
Alcohol Consumption in Young Adults
Young adults suffering from an alcohol use disorder is a common problem. According to a recent survey, most people aged 18 or older have had some alcohol, and binge drinking and heavy alcohol use are issues for young adults.2
Binge drinking is defined as drinking four or five alcoholic drinks within two hours. According to the results of the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, between 32 and 38 percent of 18- to 22-year-olds have engaged in binge drinking at the time of the survey.3
Heavy alcohol use is considered binge drinking five or more days each month. The survey showed that between 8 and 13 percent of 18- to 22-year-olds engaged in heavy alcohol use at the time of the survey.
Why Are Young Adults Using Alcohol?
There are several reasons that young adults may engage in alcohol use, including socially normalized drinking. The social norm is to drink a few beers or cocktails at parties or social events, even for adults, leading young adults to consider it innocuous.
Many young adults perceive binge drinking as normal and acceptable. This may be due to the inherent risk-taking behaviors and the viewpoint that binge drinking is about looking “cool” to peers.
Another factor is that drinking alcohol is considered a rite of passage, such as on the 21st birthday when a young adult reaches legal drinking age. Along with this, alcohol use with peers is commonplace, to the point that teens may be viewed as weird or pressured if they choose not to drink.4
The effects of peer pressure can’t be excluded, especially as they relate to risk-taking. During the adolescent period, pre-teens and teens have a strong interest in peer relationships and are more susceptible to peer influences. These adolescents focus on their peers for decision-making involving risky behavior, and they’re more stressed than adults when excluded or rejected by peers.5
Understanding Alcohol Use Disorder
Moderate alcohol use is an acceptable part of socialization and likely not a health concern for many adults. While some adults can engage in alcohol use at special occasions or social events, about 18 million adults have an alcohol use disorder in the U.S.
Young adults are susceptible to alcohol use disorder, and the effects are more concerning in a developing body and mind.
Alcohol use disorder is a condition that causes:
- Intense alcohol cravings or a desire to consume alcohol
- An inability to stop drinking alcohol once you’ve started
- Negative emotions, such as anxiety and irritability when not drinking alcohol
Alcohol is legal and socially acceptable, but that doesn’t mean it’s not dangerous. Heavy drinking can increase the risk of liver disease and certain cancers. Alcohol can damage the brain and vital organs, especially in developing bodies. Drinking alcohol while pregnant also poses risks to a developing fetus.
Aside from direct health risks, drinking alcohol increases the risks associated with behavior, such as fights that lead to injuries, car accidents, homicide, and suicide.6
Alcohol Use and Major Depressive Disorder in Young Adults
Major depressive disorder is a mood disorder that causes persistent sadness. More than “feeling down,” major depressive disorder (or clinical depression) affects how you feel, think, and behave, impacting school, work, and interpersonal relationships.
With major depressive disorder, the sufferer can’t just overcome it by forcing themselves to engage in activities. A combination of psychotherapy and medication is best for a person to treat their clinical depression.7
Young adults are at a greater risk for major depressive disorder and other mental illnesses, which typically occur before a young adult reaches the age of 25. Alcohol use can worsen depression and other mental illness symptoms and complications. Heavy drinking early in development, around the adolescent years, may contribute to developing depression later in life and engaging in associated risks like suicide and self-mutilation.
Depression may look a little different in young adults as well. In teens, the symptoms may include feelings of worthlessness or negativity, sadness, irritability, sensitivity, poor school attendance, excessive eating and sleeping, self-harm, loss of interest in hobbies, and recreational drugs or alcohol use.
How Do I Know If I Have Alcohol Use Disorder?
- drank more than you intended to or for more extended periods?
- wanted to stop drinking or cut back and couldn’t?
- felt strong cravings for alcohol?
- Spend time drinking or recovering from drinking?
- had alcohol disrupt your school or personal life?
- given up on hobbies to make time for drinking or recovering from drinking, such as an early morning practice after Friday night drinking?
- kept drinking, even if it made you feel anxious or depressed?
- gotten into dangerous situations from drinking, such as driving under the influence?
- had to drink more to get drunk?
- had withdrawal as alcohol wore off, such as anxiety, shakiness, nausea, sweating, or irritability?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you might want to consider treatment for alcohol use disorder.
Find Help for Alcohol Use Disorder at a California Alcohol Rehab Center
If you’re concerned about the impact alcohol has had on your life and your future or tried to quit and can’t on your own, it’s vital to seek help and support to recover.
Addiction can be a problem at any age, but it’s a particular concern for young adults 18 and over.
The young adult rehab program or alcohol addiction treatment program at Clear Life Recovery in Costa Mesa, CA can help you address your alcohol use disorder and get on track to a healthy and sober future. Contact us today to learn more about our California alcohol rehab center.