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Are High Unemployment Rates Increasing the Rate of Teen Substance Abuse?

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Officials in the European Union (EU) worry that the fight against teen drug abuse may be impacted by the worldwide economic downturn. The EU has seen great strides in recent years with the following drug-related issues among young people:

  • Decline in new users of cocaine
  • Significant drop in new users of heroin
  • More individuals seeking treatment for addiction

If fewer people are using drugs and more people are getting treated, then there should be a decline in substance abuse throughout the EU.

There is a well-known statistic, however, that causes European officials to be hesitant. Research studies show that unemployed individuals are more vulnerable to drug abuse and addiction, since the economy in the EU is doing poorly and many young people find themselves without a job. There is a worry that in the coming years we will see a spike in substance abuse among the younger generation.

Unemployment and Drug Use in the United States

Given the EU findings, is there also a correlation between unemployment rates and drug use in the United States? According to a SAMHSA study, unemployment is directly associated with higher rates of substance use.  

According 17 percent of unemployed workers had a substance abuse disorder in 2012. However, only 9 percent of full-time workers did, thus supporting the claim of substance abuse and unemployment having a strong correlation. Since the numbers are self-reported, they could actually be even higher in reality. Unfortunately, such a study has yet to be done that specifically focuses on teens in the job market. Given the importance of this demographic to the future, specific unemployment rate and drug use research needs to be executed and study. It could in turn provide confirmation and support the EU Study results.

Factors That May Lead to Increased Youth Drug Use in the EU

EU legislators and law enforcement may have reason to worry. There are currently a few factors that, if not addressed, may cause more youth to go down the path of addiction. The good news is when you know there is a problem, there is the opportunity to fix it. However, when we explore the problems associated with substance abuse and unemployment, it becomes difficult to pinpoint what drives the connection. Also, due to lack of funds, some officials feel they may not be able to respond to known problems ahead of time. Some of the issues that stem from unemployment and substance abuse are as follows:

  • High numbers of unemployed youth across the EU
  • Reduction in the public health budget creating less funding for drug prevention and education programs
  • An emerging synthetic drug market
  • Growth of sales for drugs over the Internet

Youth of the EU May Have ‘Paid the Highest Price’ for the Bad Economy

The International Labor Organization (ILO) states that in most developed countries, unemployment for youth exceeds adults. Many young people have been taken out of the “unemployed” category as of late, but only to find part-time employment. Often these jobs do not pay enough for young adults to afford to live on their own, hence they turn to substance abuse to cope with the difficulties.

The ILO report stated “youth unemployment has continued to worsen and young people pay the highest price over the course of the crisis.”

Do you think we have similar issues here in the US with youth unemployment and drug use? If you know a teen suffering from unemployment and is battling a substance addiction, call Newport Academy today.