Addiction or Abuse? The Impact of Substance Abuse on Young Adults.


The mentality and behavior of drug addicts and alcoholics is wholly irrational until you understand that they are completely powerless over their addiction.” – Russell Brand

An Overview 

Substance abuse is a hard chapter to overcome, no matter the age. Substance abuse can affect not only the elderly or adults, but it also has a long, and profiling impact on young adults. While many have brought up the attention of substance abuse, it becomes hard to find the impact of this decision of young adults, specially from ages 18-25.  

Abuse of the Media

It is not a hard thing to comprehend that the current generations and future generations have become infatuated with media. From news cast to stories, it has not been hard to stumble across a show on Netflix that exposes drug, alcohol, and the over usage of other illegal substance. Shameless, a well-known and American classic television show, has shown the life of a family through abuse of drugs and living on their own without reliance of their alcoholic father. While this is a lighthearted and comedic show, some of the topics portrayed in this should not be taken lightly. This is where Generation Y and Z falls into a trap and overlooks the issues among the controversy of substance abuse.   

The Shame behind Shameless

As previously mentioned, the show Shameless has become a very well known and influential show throughout the years. While it has become a show about getting through struggles, these struggles have become overlooked in each and every show. Frank — the father of many kids — is an alcoholic and never feels the need to turn down some drugs. Their mother has left them, but returns throughout the show and is also an addict. Lip — one of their sons — is constantly seen smoking cigarettes, smoking weed, or getting drunk. But the main issue of addiction in this show is all portrayed through Frank. Frank has experienced the type of addiction about not caring about anyone unless he gets what he wants. He has even stolen money from his kids. Given all of this, Fiona — their daughter and the oldest — has taken the responsibility of raising herself and five kids while working several jobs. This show really shows in explicit terms how addiction affects each and every person in a family. There are pros and cons behind this show. The cons are it is very easy to overlook the important message in this show because the humor and the script does a good job of covering it up. I would say a pro would be that it brings the power of addiction into light and demonstrates how your decisions affect everyone else, including your family members. This is why substance abuse need to be brought into light more. Your parents decisions affect your decisions.  

Better Late than Never 

As a cliche, yet true statement it is better late than never to learn about the impact of substance abuse at a young age. According to American Addiction Centers, in 2018 there was an estimated 34.1 million young adults (18-25) that were reliant on drugs or alcohol. While this number does look daunting, and to be quite frank it is, it is a good idea to look at the larger picture and to notice how you can prevent going down this path. Some of the most common symptoms are: still taking a drug after it is not necessary, cravings, continually needing more to feel the same effect, loss of appetite, and trouble sleeping. Given this, it is estimated that around thirty-nine percent of high school seniors and college students are reliant on illegal substances. However, it can also start as young as eighth grade, which accounts for fifteen percent of abuse. 

The Power of Society 

Society has put a lot of pressure on us everyday. Whether keeping up with school, being able to balance life, or simply just getting through the day. Despite these challenges, drugs and alcohol should never be your outlet to feel “loose” or “free,” but rather individuals in your life should fill these gaps. It is important to look out for not only yourself, but also others when facing difficult times. It is also important to look out for symptoms in others and to let them know that they can always come and talk to you. The main fault in society comes with fitting in. It is often portrayed that fitting in comes with a price. Whether you are in college you need to do drugs at parties, or in high school you should drink at parties. If anyone every pressures you to do such things as this, them this should be a sign where you need to start distancing yourself. 

Behind the Glitz and Glam 

There is often a superficial film over the scary and dark world of substance abuse. Take for example the city of Orlando located in Florida. Orlando is well-known for their theme parks, water parks, and even the malls. However, if you take a stroll down Downtown Orlando it may not even feel like Orlando. Hundreds of people reliant of drugs even causing them to go homeless. Orlando is actually an extreme hot spot for illegal drug use and alcohol abuse which is why Central Florida has now become a threat for a vacation place. It is scary, but it allows you to see the real consequence of substance abuse. For example, according to Orlando Recovery Center, “The state of Florida prescribes 10 times more oxycodone pills than all other states combined” and “Most substance users began using between the ages of 12-14 (24.0%) or between the ages of 15-17 (23.4%).” It is important to recognize that while something may look put together, there is actually a lot more underneath all the superficiality. 

Place a Pin

It is evident that many of use are aware of the consequences of substance abuse. Many of us either know someone that has gone through something like this, whether that be a family member, friend, or even yourself. If it happened during their childhood, or late adulthood, I  have a simple task for you. Please clink the link below and place a pin on either the state or city that you live in. This will allow everyone to understand how big this issue is and to gain a greater understanding of the impact of drugs and alcohol. 

Steps: click on link; go to top left corner and click on additions, add marker-simple, and fill out your information. 


Please feel free to use any of the resources below if you or anybody you know needs help. If you need immediate help please call 911. 

Hotline:  1-800-799-SAFE (7233)

More help can be found on:

Works Cited

“Drug Addiction Quotes To Get You Through Your Day.” Addiction Campuses, 22 Oct. 2019,

“Get Help.” The National Domestic Violence Hotline,

Staff, Editorial. “Addiction Among High School and College Students.” Sunrise House, 26 Feb. 2020,

Staff, Editorial. “Substance Abuse Statistics among Young Adults.” American Addiction Centers, 2 Jan. 2020,

“10 Shocking Statistics About Addiction in Orlando.” Orlando Recovery Center, 5 Dec. 2019,


Share this project
  1. April 24, 2020 by Sierra Martin

    Hey Macy! Great work. I found the “Place a Pin” activity to be especially illuminating, it’s crazy how rampant addiction is in my area. I really like how you included that exercise because it makes your whole project more personal to each and every reader. In regards to addiction in Orlando specifically, have you ever watched the movie “The Florida Project?” It deals a lot with topics like addiction and homelessness in Orlando. It’s one of my favorite movies, so if you haven’t seen it I highly recommend!

  2. April 26, 2020 by Alicia

    I’ve always been really interested in addiction and narcotics’ effect on the brain, so this was a really riveting and insightful read. My favourite part of your presentation is when you addressed and sort of, ‘debunked’ the misconception and glamorisation towards this dark world of substance abuse. I agree that in the media and just in society in general, the true nature of this grimy and dangerous underworld can be completely misconstrued, and for the worse for young adolescents. This is a super important subject to raise awareness on, so thank you for putting so much effort into using your voice to educate others on this extremely pressing topic.

    • April 26, 2020 by Macy Akins

      Thank you so much for looking over my presentation!

  3. April 26, 2020 by Macy Akins

    No, I have not, but I will be definitely sure to check it out. Thank you so much for looking over my project!

  4. April 26, 2020 by Isabell

    Hello Macy, I really like this post and how it shows the true effect of addiction. I think the media glamorizes this and shows the actual effect is very helpful for young adults. I also really like the pictures and media you chose to put in and I think that it helps build your argument. thank you for making this a realistic presentation about addiction and showing the impact it can have on a person.

  5. April 27, 2020 by julia

    Hi Macy! I think that this presentation was incredible. I loved the media you chose to incorporate, the format of your presentation was also really good! I loved the interactive pin activity! overall Good job!

  6. April 27, 2020 by Malena

    Hi Macy, great job on your presentation! I loved how you brought a lot of information that related to us today into your website like how you spoke out about the TV show Shameless. It definitely helps bring awareness of how the media tends to normalize things that should be spoken about. The Place a Pin section is a really cool idea to incorporate since you can see the distribution across the country. Good job again!

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