The Cost of Addiction in Millennials

Editorial Team

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Cost of Addiction in Millennials

Several stereotypes follow Millennials in many aspects of life, but none are as telling as the cost of addiction in Millennials. Drug-related deaths among people 18 to 34 soared 108 percent between 2007 and 2017. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data reveals the increases for fatalities caused by drugs, alcohol, and suicide combined were higher for Millennials than for Baby Boomers and senior citizens.

Drug use by Millennials is caused by a number of factors. The group, often referred to as The Social Generation, in many ways, faces a harder life than their parents. The financial struggles, the battle for adequate healthcare, and a stagnant employment market are all believed to play a role in the ever-increasing cost of addiction in Millennials.

Millennial Financial Crisis and Drugs

“Human beings do feel a need to avoid tension, relieve boredom, avoid frustration, and find a happy state between their search for novelty and fear of the unexpected,” expresses Dr. K. D. Charalampous in his review of the drug culture in the 70s. While the piece was written in 1971, it holds true even today. Millennials are the generation that grew up seeing their parents lose jobs, struggle to put food on the table and in 2008 more than 3 million families lost their homes. If there’s one thing the “adulting” generation understands, it’s fear of the unexpected, which leads many to cope in detrimental ways.

Millennials face the most crushing amount of student loan debt ever experienced by the American people. Roughly 45 percent of Millennials have student loan debt and the graduating class of 2018 has an average student loan debt of $29,800. While the cost of college has more than doubled since the 80s, the salary earned by educated employees has not.

A SmartAsset study (adjusted for inflation) reveals the annual salary of a millennial today is an estimated 20 percent lower than the average salary for a baby boomer at the same age. For the generation that’s paying twice as much for a college degree and getting paid one-fifth less for their work, the tension of such a devastating financial burden can lead to a search for stress relief.

Millennials aren’t turning to drugs as a party favor; they’re using illicit drugs as a way to mask the pain. Studies show the most likely gateway for the use of heroin, fentanyl, or other street-based opioids is prescription pain killers. While we see statistics – as the CDC reports that nearly 35 out of every 100,000 people between the ages of 25 and 34 died of a drug overdose in 2016 – we often don’t get the story behind those numbers. Like the story of Brittany Rose Hallett of Milton, Wisconsin. The 26-year-old drank herself to death under the weight of $50,000 in student loan debt.

She couldn’t find a job that paid well enough to pay back the loan, and, according to her mom, Brittany couldn’t afford health insurance after she aged off her father’s plan. Without health insurance, she wasn’t able to see her regular counselor or receive outpatient care for her drinking or depression.

Continued after infographic:

Cost of Addiction in Millennials

Lack of Treatment Drives Cost of Addiction In Millennials

While Millennials may be the most likely to lean into illicit drugs and alcohol to cope with the crippling financial burden of student loan debt, lack of health care and stagnant workplace pay, they are among the least likely to receive the substance misuse treatment needed to achieve sobriety.

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health documents 21 million people in the U.S. needed substance misuse treatment in 2016, but only 11 percent (2.1 million) of those needing treatment received it. The survey further distinguished that 93 percent of adults ages 18 to 25 who needed substance misuse treatment did not get it. It’s no coincidence then that the rate of overdose deaths increased significantly by 9.6 percent from 2016 to 2017.

For Millennials facing an overwhelming financial burden and knowledge that a tank in the economy could mean they lose everything, as their parents did in the Great Recession, misusing drugs and alcohol has turned into an escape method. That escape, however, is slowly killing young adults and furthering the drug epidemic in America.

Best Scottsdale, AZ Drug Treatment Facility

Depression and anxiety often coexist with a substance abuse habit. It is crucial to find a life free from alcohol and drugs while also dealing with the co-occurring mental health issue. For those battling drug addiction or living with a loved one who can’t find a long-term path to recovery, the SpringBoard Recovery group provides a different approach.

Drug treatment plans are customized for each individual. No two drug misuse stories are exactly alike, so neither are our treatment plans. We take the time to evaluate your mental and physical health to determine if dual diagnosis treatment could be beneficial. The cost of addiction in Millennials doesn’t have to include tens of thousands of lives each year. Our caring treatment specialists will work alongside you to create the treatment program needed to build a better mental approach and develop healthy coping habits to know you can overcome financial and economic issues.


  1. Well Being Trust:
  2. K. D. Charalampous, M.D.:
  3. CNN:
  4. Insider:
  5. Student Loan Hero:
  6. Smart Asset:
  7. Medium:
  8. USA Today:
  9. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
  10. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:

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AUGUST 10, 2019

Robert Castan is a member of the Executive Leadership Team at SpringBoard Recovery. Robert started his professional career as a house manager and has become an industry leader and trusted voice in the treatment world. He brings extensive knowledge of organizational growth, industry-leading outcomes, and comprehensive marketing to SpringBoard Recovery. Robert has been walking his own path of recovery for over 10 years. This path has truly driven his ambition to help make treatment available to others who are struggling with addiction. Robert finds great joy in traveling and keeping physically active, with an emphasis on biking. Robert resides in Arizona with his husband and two four-legged children.   The U.S. Alcohol Crisis, Still Deadlier Than the Opioid Epidemic   Zombies and Other Future Threats to the Health of American Youth Dire Mental Health: A Catalyst for Post-Pandemic Drug Addiction The Benefits of Rehab Center Staff Working Their Own Recovery Opinion: The Opioid Crisis + COVID-19 = The Perfect Storm Robert Castan on Successful Addiction Treatment and Entrepreneurship Castan: The road less traveled of addiction & recovery in Scottsdale Opioids & COVID Driving Phoenix’s Rising Fatal Drug Overdoses Opinion: The Opioid Crisis + COVID-19 = The Perfect Storm Successful Addiction Treatment Programs & Entrepreneurship

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