Age-Specific Treatment and Family Involvement Are Key

Group of Young Men | Age-Specific Treatment | SoberCollege.comYoung adulthood is a period of self-discovery and exploration. Many are experiencing life on their own for the first time while trying to figure out a path for the future. Pressure to balance work, school and a social life can sometimes be challenging and leaves some looking for an escape. In a world where popular media portrays drugs and alcohol as carefree and fun ways to enjoy life more thoroughly, many find themselves on the cusps of maintaining a particular lifestyle and exploring alternatives. False portrayals of happiness and popularity push temptation further allowing the thoughts of “just this once” to creep into the minds of even the most resilient to peer pressure. A perceived social tolerance of indulgence in drugs and alcohol creates a space where some are willing to push their own boundaries and walk paths they may have never imagined themselves treading.

These pressures are often unique to young adults as they embark on the world with a new sense of independence and freedom. Drugs and alcohol often become coping mechanisms as some struggle with school, work and relationships with family and friends. During a critical development stage mentally, emotionally and physically, young adults are susceptible to particular health dangers unique to their ages. Age-specific treatment is critical for young adults as their experiences require special attention and acknowledgement. The environments in which addiction develops often differs from adult experiences and the world they reenter often has a different set of expectations. Treating young adult addiction as an age-specific issue creates a space to discuss and treat symptoms others may not similarly face.

Drug and alcohol abuse among young adults has grown dramatically in recent years. In 2011, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reported that 21.5% of young adults aged 18 – 25 used illicit drugs. The rate of binge drinking among this age group was at 39.8% and heavy alcohol abuse was reported as 12.1%. Particularly among young adults, the rate of use of drugs and alcohol increases as perceived risk decreases. The recent increase in drug abuse has been largely driven by marijuana use. In 2011, marijuana use climbed to 19% from 16.6% in 2008 and continues to be a gateway drug for many into more illicit drug use.

Young adults find themselves living a world apart from other generations. When it comes to treating addiction, age-specific treatments allow more space for connections to be built. With large age disparities in other treatment environments, it can be difficult to open up and share with others that may not relate to the same experiences. Robert Pfeifer, MSW, founder of Sober College Treatment Center for Young Adults, expressed that “success in recovery is all about being able to connect to your peers. You are uncovering solutions to life’s problems on your terms and shared commonality of experience is critical in the recovery process. For example, if a text or a tweet is causing you stress and the person you are in a group with has never texted or tweeted then they cannot really assist you.”

The chance of success in treatment is greatly improved by age-specific treatments. Centers that offer these types of programs provide the same therapies as other programs including individualized therapy, group therapy and medical tests. The 12-step model is one of the most dominant forms of treatment across age groups as it teaches individuals how to overcome addiction and develop healthy outlooks and attitudes towards life after recovery. Although these are categories of treatment available at many recovery centers, different age groups may respond differently to the same treatments. By recognizing and understanding important differences in age categories, treatments can cater to the specific needs of a particular age group. As group therapies require individuals to share and listen to one another, groups of individuals close in age can respond and relate more readily to one another. Varying obstacles and distinct reasons to take drugs and alcohol makes it difficult for individuals to understand the plights of those not of a similar age. These differences can create barriers in treatment that may make some uncomfortable and unwilling to share in fear of being misunderstood.

The family dynamic is also a critical piece of young adult treatment. Often relationships with parents and family members play a larger role in the recovery process. Robert Pfeifer adds that family dynamic impacts a person’s movement towards sobriety. “When people talk about hitting ‘rock bottom’, I think what they are referring to is an extreme lack of resources causing them to feel like they have nothing and nowhere to go. If the family is strong in their commitment to that person’s recovery, the person will have no choice but to seek out help.” Sober College, for instance, brings family into the recovery process by offering family weekends where individuals can share their experiences in recovery with family members. Events like these allow families to partake in group therapies alongside their loved ones and promote healing within the family unit. Helping families understand addiction allows for bonds to be mended and sets a foundation for healthy relationships moving forward. Family events not only help residents succeed, they also assist families that suffer with the damages addiction can cause. Fixing damaged relationships within families can create additional benefits in life after treatment. A supportive and understanding network creates safety nets in sobriety that help many young adults maintain an addiction-free lifestyle.

Understanding what treatment options are available for those struggling with addiction is important to discovering the best solution to recovery. Treatment is an essential part to overcoming addiction and maintaining long-term sobriety. Various forms of programs are available to ensure young adults receive the best treatment possible. It is important to find a program that suits the particular needs of young adults and age-specific treatments offer the best solution for those struggling with addiction. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, there is a way out. Young adult programs provide knowledgeable staff and a supportive network that carry on into aftercare. Making the decision to enroll in an age-specific treatment can make all the difference in recovery from addiction.

Sober College offers age-specific substance abuse treatment centers, visit or call today 800-465-0142.

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