Young Adults

Early adulthood can increase the presence and influence of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs in your life and where you spend your time.  Find answers to some common questions. Learn more about what you can do to help.

Substance use is such big issue. What can I do?

Have your Eyes and Ears Open.  Everyone is at risk.

  • Learn the signs and symptoms of someone who may be in trouble with drugs or alcohol. This can be someone who:
    • Goes to a lot of parties.
    • Gets in trouble at school, work, or with parents.
    • Hangs around with people that are using substances.
    • Does risky things like drink and drive.

 

  • Monitor and report your concerns.  It may be tough. But, if you ignore the issue, it will only continue.  If you know of illegal drug activity, report it to the authorities immediately.

 

  • Speak with others who share your concerns about substance use.  Become involved in awareness events, an advocacy group, or local community coalition.
Where do I learn more about drugs?

There are many sources of information including the media, web, and peers.   It can be confusing. You will want information that is up-to-date and based in research.  Look for sites that start with https.  Avoid sites that are making claims from one person’s point of view.  The most accurate information about drugs will come from sites that have considered research and many studies. These studies will come from a variety of sources. Information will be from experts in the field of substance abuse.  

You can start your search at sites such as:

Local prevention partners likely have information for you as well.

Are drinking and trying drugs a normal part of college life and adulthood?

Actually no, they are not.  Social norms, the media, and entertainment lead us to believe that drinking is a part of college and adult life. This is not the case.  While young adults are especially vulnerable to substances possibly due to increased exposure and new found freedoms, the majority of young adults do not use.  The actual number of peoples who drink alcohol, is significantly less than the percentage young people perceive are drinking.  What is concerning is that among the number of young people who do drink, many do so in the dangerous form of binge drinking.  To assess your level of drinking, visit alcoholscreening.org.

Learning about how people can lower the risk of their alcohol choices is important.  Remember, you are in the majority if you choose not to use.

How do I handle a roommate who is using substances?

Dealing with the secondhand affects of substance use can be challenging.  These are the negative things you might experience by being around someone who is using alcohol or drugs, even if you never use yourself. This can include:

  • Being kept up all night by a drunk or high roommate
  • Arguments
  • Assault
  • Legal troubles
  • Unwanted mess

It is helpful to enter the shared living arrangement by informing your roommate of your stance on substance use, and how you aim to handle related situations.  You also need to be 100% ready to act upon those terms, even if you must report your roommate.  Your housing and/or education is your investment.  You need to do what you can to protect it.

I’m worried that my roommates or their friends may try to use my prescription.

How wonderful of you to be conscientious of this.  Reducing access is a key component to preventing substance misuse.  This means refusing to knowingly provide substances such as alcohol or marijuana to anyone under the age of 21.  Do not share prescriptions.  It also includes measures to refrain from unknowingly sharing substances.  You can:

  • Keep track of and lock up prescriptions
  • Only share the fact that you take medication with those that need to know
  • Promptly dispose of medications that are no longer needed

You can properly dispose of unwanted or expired medicines by bringing them to a law enforcement agency.  Agencies across the State of Maine participate in Drug Take Back programs and many have medication disposal boxes in their lobbies.

How can I help a friend or family member who is using?

Let them know you care.  Be supportive and listen if they choose to talk to you about their use, or problems.  Refrain from interjecting what you want to say and truly listen.  When it is your turn to speak, remind them of the positive things they have going for them, and how they may be risking what’s important in their life by making high-risk drug and alcohol choices.  Never offer substances as a way for them to cope and help them work life’s ups and downs using substance free alternatives.  You can also help them identify counseling and treatment services on campus, through work, or in the community.  Remain respectful and supportive if they choose not to speak to you about their use.  The National Institute on Drug Abuse, What to Do If Your Adult Friend or Loved One Has a Problem with Drugs offers more information that may be helpful for you.