Meeting the Demands of a Chemically Dependent Generation

By Alex Penrod, Recovery Manager, Spearhead Lodge

According to the most recent Survey on Drug Use and Health: “drug use is highest among people in their late teens and twenties. In 2013, 22.6 percent of 18 to 20 year-olds reported using an illicit drug in the past month” (National Institute on Drug Abuse). In addition to illicit or illegal drug use, the National Institute on Drug Abuse also reports that: “Young adults (age 18 to 25) are the biggest abusers of prescription (Rx) opioid pain relievers, ADHD stimulants, and anti-anxiety drugs. They do it for all kinds of reasons, including to get high or because they think Rx stimulants will help them study better. But Rx abuse is dangerous. In 2014, more than 1,700 young adults died from prescription drug (mainly opioid) overdoses—more than died from overdoses of any other drug, including heroin and cocaine combined—and many more needed emergency treatment”.

Professionally, I have witnessed the average age of people entering treatment become younger and younger. Personally, I was a young adult in the beginning of the opioid epidemic, when prescription pain killers were a prevalent party favor on my high school campus and became even more widely used as I entered college. What started out as a nice euphoric buzz to go along with some beer drinking in college quickly became a crippling and physically addicting habit for myself and many of my friends. I later got access to quality treatment, was able to completely recover, and have been living substance free ever since. While I am grateful that I was able to get a powerful message along with the principles and tools needed to maintain sobriety when I did, I sometimes wonder if I could have gotten the help I needed even sooner. That is one of the questions that drove me to pursue an education in addiction treatment: how can recovery be made more accessible and compatible with the needs of a younger and younger population?

The problem of drug addiction and overdose has become a hot topic in the public eye these days. I see it making national news on a consistent basis. Even our federal government, sluggish as they can be at times, is managing to take action and place emphasis on solving our addiction crisis. As I’ve progressed in my personal journey, I’ve begun to notice the growing movement toward recovery taking shape in my hometown of Austin, Texas. Youth recovery in particular is on the rise. The University of Texas has created their own Center for Students in Recovery. The Recovery High School model is being implemented in several communities around the country. The 12-Step community has responded by forming meetings specific to young adults who want to recover with their peers. The face of recovery is changing and the stereotype of old men drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes in church basements seems to be fading. To meet the demands of a new generation in desperate need of their own way to transformation, everyone seems to be thinking about how to reduce stigma by presenting sobriety as a way of success, not a mark of failure. This seems to be the right idea and it is catching on in the addiction treatment industry as well. It has been amazing to personally see several young people I know graduate from college and credit their accomplishment to the fact that they were embraced by their community as they overcame their addiction.


I am absolutely thrilled that BRC Recovery has been able to join in the youth recovery movement by creating Spearhead Lodge. We have spent a lot of time carefully considering how to best adapt our tried and true 12-Step immersion model, while incorporating clinical and community based resources in a way that empowers young people. We have always seen recovery as not just a means to stay sober, but as a launching pad to pursue your dreams and succeed in life.   As someone who found recovery at a young age, I can tell you that is exactly what it means to me. It is both an honor and a privilege to work with such an amazing team and be able to give back to the young adult population.   From myself and the rest of the team here at Spearhead Lodge, join us as we help to transform a new generation!




National Institute on Drug Abuse. Nationwide Trends Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/nationwide-trends on July 21, 2016