Muir Wood therapist, David Laing

EU Says Youth Unemployment May Drive Up Rates of Underage Substance Abuse

Officials in the European Union fear the strides they have made against stopping drug abuse among youth may see a reversal in the coming years due to elevating unemployment rates for young people. The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) released a new report with concerns over how the worldwide economic downturn may be affecting youth within all the countries in the union.

One main reason the EMCDDA is concerned about a rise in substance abuse for young people is the cuts in government spending that negatively impact numerous programs in the following areas:

  • Health
  • Safety
  • Law enforcement

Each of these public arenas directly affects drug prevention and education, because most of the funding that goes to these types of substance abuse programs originates in one of these areas of the public sector. Also, with new synthetic drugs whose effects on the body are unknown and online drug sales booming, the EMCDDA is concerned about the timing if there is a lapse in drug education and prevention programs.

Each Country in the EU Will Be Impacted Differently

The changing fiscal climate will affect each member country of the EU slightly differently. Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia were the first to report major budget cuts that would also impact drug prevention, education and treatment programs. However, a number of other countries in the EU have now followed suit.

This worries drug addiction and treatment experts, because the yearly European Drug Report just released showed record numbers of individuals seeking treatment to get off drugs and alcohol. In addition, there had been a dip in the rates of both new >heroin and cocaine abuse over the last year. No one wants to see these gains lost as a result of a poor economy.

As Unemployment Increases, So Does Drug Abuse Among Youth

The report warned that young people with no job prospects are far more susceptible to drug abuse and addiction for a number of reasons, including:

  • Boredom
  • Escape
  • Depression

In addition, the rising prescription opioid drug problem has shown that users of these drugs have higher unemployment rates than individuals who abuse other types of illicit substances. Without further study, no one knows which came first: the unemployment or the opioid addiction.

Do you think there will be a similar effect on drug abuse among young people in the US as a result of the economic turndown? Share your opinion below.