Substance Abuse in Young Adults Essay

Pages: 5 (1450 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Sports - Drugs

Substance Abuse in Young Adults: Issues to be Addressed by a Nurse Practitioner in Primary Care Settings

Young adulthood can be a turbulent period in many people's lives when new roles are assumed, careers and started and relationships forged. For instance, according to Mcconaughy and Wadsworth, "The transition from adolescence to adulthood usually involves many lifestyle changes, including moving out of the parents' home, completing school, starting a job or career, managing one's own finances, forming an intimate relationship with a partner, and raising a family" (p. 202). During the young adulthood phase of the life cycle, the oat-sowing process left over from adolescence may not yet be complete and youthful exuberance still holds sway over many of the long-term healthcare considerations and the threat of involvement with law enforcement authorities in ways that contribute to ongoing experimentation with legal and illegal substances. It is not surprising, then, that the incidence and prevalence of Substance Abuse disorders is inordinately high among this segment of the population, and these issues and others related to the treatment of young adults for substance abuse disorders are discussed further below.

Epidemiologic features. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), "The task of drug abuse epidemiology is to better understand patterns and trends in drug use. Although alcohol, tobacco and other drugs differ in many important respects, including their legal status, they nonetheless share important characteristics: they are all psychoactive substances with the potential for creating dependency and they can cause very significant public health problems and widespread social harms" (p. 19). The WHO cites the enormous profits available in the drug trade as well as increased global production levels in recent years as contributing to the prevalence of substance abuse patterns, but also emphasizes that, "Many social, economic and political factors have contributed to the global spread of alcohol and other drugs" (p. 19).

Incidence and prevalence. Substance abuse by young adults remains a problem across the country, and the research to date indicates that the incidence and prevalence rates for this segment of the population have remained steady in recent years. Currently, more than 16 and a half million Americans, aged 12 years and over, are considered to have a substance abuse or dependence disorder (Salyers, Ritchie, Cochrane & Roseman, 2006). In addition, approximately 33% of patients who present with psychiatric disorders have a corresponding history of substance drug abuse, and 50% of patients with substance abuse disorders also experience symptoms that are sufficiently severe to justify diagnosis with another mental disorder; these rates that are reflective of the paramount need for the provision timely and meaningful healthcare services for this population (Salyers et al., 2006). Estimated U.S. population lifetime prevalence rates were 22.5% for any non-substance abuse mental disorder, 13.5% for alcohol dependence-abuse, and 6.1% for other drug dependence-abuse. Among those with a mental disorder, the odds ratio of having some addictive disorder was 2.7, with a lifetime prevalence of about 29% (including an overlapping 22% with an alcohol and 15% with another drug disorder) (Regier, Farmer, Rae, Locke, Keith, Judd & Goodwin, 1990). The useful of the treatment data for accurately estimating the prevalence of substance abuse, though, is constrained by the proportionately few individuals who enter treatment (Hubbard, 2006).

Risk factors. Although there are different risk factors associated with different substances, the U.S. Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration reports that young adults are at particular risk of abusing alcohol: "Alcohol is the most widely used substance of abuse among America's youth. Alcohol contributes to the three leading causes of death among 12-20-year-olds (unintentional injury, homicide and suicide)" (para. 1). The studies to date have shown that people who begin drinking alcohol before they are 15 years of age are six times more likely to develop problems with alcohol as adults than people who began drinking alcohol when they were 21 years or older (National survey shows, 2010). In fact, Windle (2003) emphasizes that, "National surveys of adolescents, college students, and other young adults in the United States reveal high rates of alcohol use among these age groups as well as high rates of dangerous drinking practices such as binge drinking and daily drinking" (para. 2). Indeed, fully 40.1% of college students reported binge drinking (i.e., consuming five or more drinks in a row) during the 2-week period preceding the survey (Windle, 2003). In… [END OF PREVIEW]

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