Causes of Addiction In Youth and Young Men

Early adulthood is a time when young people are more likely to make decisions impulsively. For those off to college, this is their first experience away from home. They are not bound by their parent’s rules and have been enabled to make their own decisions, good or bad. For those that enter the workforce, the freedom that comes with a steady paycheck may lead to risky impulsive decisions. In addition, many young men live in the now. Freedom and not considering future consequences are contributing causes of drug addiction in youth.

Causes of Addiction in Youth and Young Men

Quite often, many young men have already been exposed to substances such as drugs or alcohol during their early teen years. Most young men have already tried alcohol, marijuana, tobacco (vaping), prescription drugs, or any other illicit drug. As teenagers enter adulthood, the freedom that comes with this phase of life can lead to further experimentation with drugs and alcohol. This can be quite alarming for parents since they do not want to picture their sons engaging in drug abuse. 

There are many causes of alcohol or drug addiction in young men, and why they experiment with an addictive substance. In some situations, the actual reasons for their addiction are much more profound than their poor judgment and decision-making with their newfound freedom. Keeping these things in mind, some of the common causes young men start using drugs and alcohol include both environmental factors and psychological factors including:

A Quick Pick-Me-Up

Young adulthood can be a very stressful time for young men, regardless of whether they attend college. From attending classes, working, and staying up late, they can start to feel rundown and sluggish. So, experimenting with stimulants can become very enticing.

To Be More Outgoing

The fear of not being accepted, low-self esteem, and other insecurities can lead to drug and alcohol experimentation. In addition, many drugs and alcohol lower inhibitions and make it easier to be more outgoing in social settings. The excitement of fitting in while using drugs and drinking can become very appealing, especially when it helps young men fit in socially with their peers. 

use of drugs and alcohol in social settings to be more outgoing can result in addiction

To Suppress Unwanted Emotions and Feelings

Drinking and drug abuse in young men could result from self-medicating away unwanted emotions and feelings, like anxiety, stress, and depression. Additionally, young men can abuse substances to suppress mental health disorders when they are still in denial about their sexual and/or gender identity. 

Heightened Thrills/Thrill Seeking

More young men are prone to engaging in daring and risky activities while using drugs and alcohol. During these activities, the rush of adrenaline on top of the effects of the drugs and alcohol can create an even greater “high” that they will want to experience again and again. 

Performance Enhancement

Young men can be put under a lot of pressure to perform well when playing sports or in academic settings. This added pressure to do well can entice young men to experiment with different types of performance-enhancing drugs to give themselves an edge over the competition.

performance enhancing drugs that can improve ones ability to edge the competition in sports or academically

Social Acceptance

Many drugs and drinking have become socially accepted due to their glamorization in movies, television shows, and social media. Young men see musicians, actors, and other role models engaging in these harmful behaviors that can lead to addiction. So many young men view drinking and drug use as normal behavior. 

An Escape from Life

Developing or exacerbating mental health disorders is quite common with substance abuse and is referred to as a co-occurring disorder. Young men who feel like they are not good enough or have been picked on, teased, bullied, or body shamed can look for a way to just escape from all the hurt, pain, and anger they are experiencing. So, drugs and alcohol and the effects they bring can become very inviting.

Genetic predisposition

Research has shown a close relationship between developing a substance use disorder and one’s genetics. There are several genes that may predispose someone to abusing alcohol or drugs, however, it is important to note that it’s a combination of genetics and other risk factors such as the environment or presence of mental illness that will determine if one is at increased risk of addiction.

Fear of experiencing withdrawal symptoms

Although not a direct cause of addiction, a fear of withdrawal symptoms may keep an individual in the throes of their addiction in order to avoid any uncomfortable feelings. Certain substance use disorders such as alcohol addiction can lead to lethal withdrawal symptoms if not monitored carefully. The good news is that addiction medicine has made some incredible advances over the last few decades making the detoxification and treatment of substance use disorders far more comfortable and efficient.

Rehab Treatment for Young Men in Southern California

If you are a young man struggling with substance abuse or are concerned your son is abusing drugs and alcohol, New Life House can help. We have custom-tailored addiction treatment programs and family therapy programs for young men at our treatment centers throughout Southern California.

Our rehab and sober living focus on placing young men in age-specific groups amongst their peers. We have found that when young men of similar ages experience rehab treatment together, it helps create a more supportive environment and lays a solid foundation for long-term friendships and sobriety. 

For further information about our treatment programs for young men, please feel free to contact us by calling us today (888) 977-4549 or by filling out our online “contact us” form, or by emailing us at [email protected].

Last Updated on February 20, 2024


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