Friendship can save lives.

Young adults who felt more connected — defined as engaged, supported, and cared for — at home and school during their teen years are 66% less likely to experience mental health problems and risks, reported HealthDay News, citing a CDC study published by the journal Pediatrics.

That includes a 65% lower lifetime risk of misusing illegal drugs, including prescription drugs; a 54% lower risk of being diagnosed with an STD; and a 51% lower risk of being a victim of physical violence in the past year, according to the study.

“What happens in middle and high school doesn’t stay in middle and high school,” researcher Kathleen Ethier, director of the Division of Adolescent and School Health at the CDC, said in a press release. “What we experience as adolescents can set us up for success — including avoiding serious health risks like drug use and STDs.”

Research backs up the health benefits of having strong relationships. A network of relationships affects your success — it can lead to new jobs and boost happiness, health, and ideas,Business Insider’s Drake Baer previously reported.

That may explain why successful people have so many groups of friends— University of Chicago professor Ron Burt found that your network fosters a flow of ideas and opportunities. But connections don’t just help us get a job or shape our ideas — they also shape our behavior.

Fostering these relationships is more important than ever in a time when depression and “ deaths of despair” — deaths related to drugs, alcohol, and suicide — are both on the rise among millennials.

This article first appeared on

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