Many social experiences for young adults involve shared alcohol consumption. At this age, many young people are not prepared to deal with the social pressures and responsibilities that come with drinking alcohol. Likewise, first-time use often occurs at this age and can trigger a previously unknown predisposition for addictive behaviors. For these reasons and others, young people ages 18 to 25 have the highest rates of alcohol use among all the age groups.
Recreational Alcohol Use Rates
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a government agency focused on addiction and mental health issues, produces regular reports on alcohol use. The latest survey offers information for 2010 and 2011, including the following:
- 32 percent of 18-20 year-olds reported binge drinking in the past month.
- Total binge drinking numbers for this group topped 4.3 million people.
- 47 percent of this group consumed any amount of alcohol in the past month.
- Nearly 68 percent of this age group reported alcohol use in the past year.
Young adults between the ages of 20 and 25 had even higher numbers, including the following:
- 45.4 percent of 20-25 year-olds reported binge drinking in the past month.
- Total binge drinking numbers for this group topped 9 million people.
- 70 percent of this group consumed any amount of alcohol in the past month.
- Nearly 84 percent of this age group reported alcohol use in the past year.
Binge drinking is defined by having five or more alcoholic beverages in a single sitting. Of those surveyed, 10.5 percent of the 18-20 -ear-olds and 14.4 percent of the 21-25 year-olds reported binge drinking on five or more occasions during the prior 30 days. Likewise, over 56 percent of those surveyed had first consumed alcohol before they turned 18.
Young Adults and Alcohol Abuse
The binge-drinking percentages decline with the next age group, 26-34 year-olds, and again for those over 35. There are several reasons why young adults might drink more, including the following:
- Access to age-restricted bars and clubs holds a certain cultural allure.
- Long-awaited legal access to alcohol invites initial overconsumption.
- Young adults often treat alcohol intoxication as a right of passage.
- Alcohol provides “liquid courage” for young adults seeking romantic encounters.
- Alcohol abstinence can cast a person as an “outsider” among certain social groups.
Social pressure can be especially strong for college students. The 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that full-time college students are 9 percent more likely to drink and 4 percent more likely to binge drink than part-time college students.
Alcoholism Treatment for Young Adults
Rehab for alcohol abuse typically includes a supervised detox, counseling, behavioral therapies and integrated care for co-occurring conditions, such as depression or anxiety. There are also specialized programs that appeal more to young adults, including the following:
- Holistic approaches that include yoga, acupuncture and meditation
- Programs that incorporate artistic expression like painting, writing and music
- Adventure therapy that uses outdoor action sports to encourage recovery
- Nature-themed rehab centers that offer hiking, rock climbing or surfing
- International facilities in exotic locations around the world
If staging an intervention for a loved one, consider finding a rehab center that appeals to his or her interests and providing the information to the moderator. It might make the difference.
Alcohol Abuse Helpline
Call our toll-free helpline to learn more about warning signs, treatment methods and rehab options. We can also check health insurance policies for treatment coverage and assist in staging an intervention. Our counselors are available 24 hours a day, so please call now.