Iowa State University study shows young adults not getting help for substance use disorders

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AMES, Iowa (KCRG) - A study from Iowa State University finds many young adults are dealing with a substance use disorder, but they're not getting help.

The study shows two in every five young adults reported a substance use disorder in the past year. It shows 39.6% for college students, and 44.5% for non-college students.

Based on the data, researchers could not figure out why the participants did not seek treatment.

Substance use disorder is a drug addiction and can range from alcohol to prescription pills. Members of the Area Substance Abuse Council (ASAC) say they are trying to get people to get help by focusing on erasing the stigma. They don't want people to feel like a failure for opening up about their addiction.

ASAC has really been pushing that message lately. There area people on staff giving testimonials to show others that they're not alone. When people want to open up, they make sure they do more listening instead of talking. Workers also avoid using certain words.

“We don't want to use necessarily words like 'addict' or anything that would put the disease first,” said Prevention Specialist Jeff Meyers. “We want to put the person first. So what we call ‘people first language’. Just letting them know that there are treatments available. "

Meyers says what surprised him the most about the study is the amount of people who have multiple substance use disorders. Fourteen percent of college students reported having it, while 19% of young adults not in college reported to having it.

He says he notices a trend of people mixing stimulants with depressants. Meyers says mixing the two reduces the effects of them.

Dr. Brooke Arterberry with Iowa State University's Department Psychology is the lead author on the study. She said they need more research to identify where to intervene and direct prevention efforts designed to encourage young adults to seek treatment.

Click here for more details on the study.