Young Adults: Relationships and Health (cont.)
Moderator: Exactly what age are you referring to when you say "young adult"? Is it the same as "teenager"?
Dr. Drew: No. Well, it's funny, when I say adolescents, I'm talking about 12-40, it's become a chronic state in a lot of individuals. But, young adults, I'm usually talking about 19-25 year olds.
Moderator: Would you say the majority of young adults feel detached from society? Why or why not?
Dr. Drew: No. Here's what I hear most commonly from adolescents in general, "you're not hearing me." And I've seen this happen over and over. I was asked to speak at a media conference with producers trying to figure out helpful content for adolescents and the kids got up to tell them what was going on. And, the people said, "okay, well, now let's figure out what's going on with kids." They have difficulty opening up and listening. Do they feel disenfranchised? No. I felt I heard a lot more about that in the 80's. But, they do feel exploited, they are exquisitely sensitive to that. They know they are being sold things, they are the most amazingly media savvy generation we've had. They just want information, reality .. they don't want it processed for them or delivered to them, they don't want to be exploited. They felt exploited by their parents or the caretakers ... they had parents acting out through the kids or were abusive. And now that becomes a sensitivity to anybody attempting to exploit them in any way. It's a fine sensitivity to the prevailing culture trying to sell them anything .. a TV show, product, or sports team, they're sick of it.
Moderator: Would you recommend a "preferred" method of birth control for a monogamous young adult couple?
Dr. Drew: Well, obviously, I'm presuming they're not smoking, don't have medical conditions, there are advantages to the pill, less PID [pelvic inflammatory disease], less cancers. Multiple reasons are accumulating to suggest the pill - it adds a level of safety now beyond contraception ... and, of course, condoms become important for STD's and safe sex. I want people to know about emergency contraception, too. It's taking your pill in a slightly higher dose after a sexual encounter. You take two pills within 24 hours of an unprotected sexual encounter, and then two more in the next 12 hours and it helps to prevent pregnancy. It works by preventing ovulation just by the oral contraceptive pill. There is some information out there from various groups and I'm against abortion, so I wouldn't get behind this if I thought it prevented implantation, but there is some information that shows conclusively that this prevents ovulation ... it works the same way as the birth control pill. Is there a finite possibility that somewhere, some time it could prevent implantation? Yes. Just like there is with the oral contraceptive pill taken the way you usually take it. So, there are multiple medications out there that have the same probability and no one talks about having them taken off the shelves. So, I'm extremely disturbed about this, since that has the highest probability of cutting down on the abortion rate out there. The Right-to-Lifers are probably not using their brains, they have to read the literature.
Moderator: Who is at greater risk of health problems as a young adult, males or females? Why?
Dr. Drew: Males are higher risk for accidents and that's, I believe, the most frequent cause of death in that age group. So the reproductive issues are slightly more impactful in women, I'd need to look the current data up.
Moderator: How has the state of sexually transmitted diseases changed over the last 10-15 years?
Dr. Drew: Syphilis has gone way down. We used to see small epidemics of cases when I was in training. Hepatitis C is becoming an increasing issue. HIV has plateaued, as well as herpes and HPV has risen. The other thing is penicillin and multi-drug resistant gonorrhea ... that was threatening for a while.
Moderator: How prevalent is smoking amongst young adults?
Dr. Drew: I don't have that number in my head but it's surprisingly high. This is part of the denial that the kids maintain between their actions and consequences, they don't think it'll happen to them. They understand it but it doesn't change their behavior given what is out there about cigarettes today.
Moderator: Are illicit drugs a problem amongst young adults?
Dr. Drew: It's massive right now. Not only that, but the drugs they're choosing to abuse, (not addiction) are amongst the scariest ... Xtacy or "E" .. some of it is amphetamine or heroin, but Xtacy has been shown to clearly be a neurotoxin. The symptoms that I see are kids getting a locked-in syndrome of becoming completely rigid, or engaging in very bizarre behaviors, taking their clothes off, jumping off of high things, mood disturbance and panic attacks. LSD does this more frequently, long standing chronic panic and depression that don't begin until ten years after the exposure, and they abuse this with increasing frequency. And, when I ask them what their culture is like, they want you all to know that they reserve the right to smoke pot. It's incredibly woven into their culture, why is it okay to drink alcohol and not smoke pot? They see this as a sign of them being exploited, that their drug can't be legalized. We went through a period, the 'just say no' era worked. People make fun of it, but the perceived harm is way down right now, and they don't trust what is being put out there about them and they want to draw their own conclusions. But, the consequences of these drugs don't show up until 10 years later.
Moderator: What do you think about marijuana abuse?
Dr. Drew: I have mixed feelings about it (pot). From a clinician's perspective, I'm against it in the sense that whatever I can use to create structure to help addicts maintain sobriety. However, in a more pragmatic reality, I think we're fueling an agenda that prevents people from having a rational discussion about it. I think it's addictive for a small subset of alcoholics. It's hard to have a discussion about it rationally. I think we should almost legalize it and then have a rational discussion about it. General prohibition doesn't seem to work. The Harrison Act of 1919 needs to be revisited, based on our most current scientific understanding of addiction and abuse. There should be no moral issues infused in these, it should be based on the clinical realities.