Deaths Due to Alcohol, Drugs and Suicide Have Soared Among Young Adults

anonymous crowd young adults

Deaths from alcohol, drugs and suicide have soared among young adults ages 18 to 34, according to a new analysis.

The number of drug deaths among young adults has risen by 400% in the past two decades, according to the non-profit Trust for America’s Health and Well Being Trust. These deaths were fueled in large part by the opioid crisis, USA Today reports.

Alcohol-related deaths for young adults rose 68% between 2007 and 2017, while suicide deaths increased 35%. Rates for “deaths of despair” from alcohol, drugs and suicide were higher among young adults than among Baby Boomers and senior citizens.

John Auerbach, CEO of the Trust for America’s Health, cited a number of factors that may explain the increase in deaths of despair among young people. These include burdensome levels of education debt, the cost of housing, the opioid crisis and the challenge of building careers during the “great recession.”

Get One-on-One Help to Address Your Child’s Substance Use

Whether you are a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, sibling or other caregiver — our Helpline is here for you and anyone else playing a supportive role in the life of a young person struggling with drug or alcohol use.

We have trained and caring specialists ready to listen, help you find answers and make an action plan to help your loved one. Support is available in English and Spanish.

partnership mobile helpline chat SMS
    User Picture


    July 23, 2019 at 8:51 AM

    My 18 yr old, soon to be 19 in a month, reported to me how she has learned to drink during her freshman year in college (out of state). Drink to blackout! She says she thought that’s what one is supposed to do.
    No one drinks at home.
    My question: since we teach our children: how to walk, hold a pencil, write, be social, drive, manage money, etc. should I teach her how to drink socially?

      User Picture


      August 16, 2019 at 10:23 AM

      Hi Mary,
      You raise such an interesting question about teaching kids to drink. We know that substance use of any kind adversely impacts the developing brain until it’s mature – typically in the mid-20’s. As a result, we want kids to delay substance use for as long as possible.

      We also know that when parents allow drinking at home, often to supervise it so that kids are “safe”, or let their kids experience feelings of being inebriated, it leads to more drinking in college compared to kids who weren’t allowed to drink at home. I realize from your post that there was no drinking in your home — I just wanted to clarify that teaching kids to drink in this way often backfires.

      Under the circumstances, it sounds like having conversations with your daughter about your concerns with respect to safety are important. It might be important to discuss drink equivalents – 5 ounces of wine, 1.5 ounces of hard alcohol or a 12-ounce beer are equivalent. Often the pour at a bar is greater or there are multiple shots in a drink which count as multiple servings even if it’s in one glass. There are “safe” drinking limits for people of age to drink – for women, I’ve seen ranges of 4 to 7 drinks per week depending upon the source with no more than 1 drink per day.

      It sounds like drinking is important to her so you might ask her what it does for her as well as some of the following questions. Does it help her fit in socially, escape stress over assignments, relieve anxiety, etc.? How could she meet these needs is a healthier way? What are the downsides of blackout drinking? What can she do to reduce the risks of blackout drinking? (BTW, the risks include memory loss, posting regrettable comments and pictures on social media, risk of alcohol poisoning, accidents, unwanted sex, missing class due to hangovers, etc.). Please ask her if she knows the signs of alcohol poisoning and what to do in the event it happens.

      I hope this helps. You’re welcome to call our helpline and speak with one of the specialists for more specific suggestions and resources at 1-855-DRUGFREE. It’s free, confidential and the people who are our specialists are some of the warmest, understanding and caring people you’ll ever encounter.

    User Picture


    June 25, 2019 at 6:43 PM

    Is there any help for recovering addicts to get back on their feet? My son’s vehicle broke down which resulted in losing his job and is now facing addiction. He lives and needs to live in country with his 5yr. Old son.

      User Picture

      Josie Feliz

      June 27, 2019 at 12:22 PM

      Thanks for your message Michele. We have forwarded your message to one of our helpline specialists who can help better answer your question, and she will be reaching out to you shortly. Our Helpline is a good place to start if you’d like to talk to someone about what you’re going through. Feel free to connect with us in whichever manner you choose in the future:
      Thank you. -The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids

Leave a Comment

Please leave a comment below to contribute to the discussion. If you have a specific question, please contact a Parent Specialist, who will provide you with one-on-one help.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *