The Unique Challenges of Young Adults in Recovery

The Unique Challenges of Young Adults in Recovery

The sooner recovery begins, the better. Recovery is a journey, and it requires change, commitment and support. It is not a matter of just a few therapy sessions or even 30 days’ worth of treatment but instead involves a lifetime of combining these professional services with learning to make healthy choices and develop as a person. Young adults are in a unique position to find long-term recovery, and the challenges they face are balanced by the opportunities they are provided.

Why Substance Abuse in Young Adults Matters

Denial is one of the most common aspects of addiction and one of the primary features that keeps individuals from getting help and finding recovery. When the individual struggling with substance use is a young adult, denial often becomes a family-wide activity. The National Association for Children of Adult Alcoholics explains, “Denial is a dysfunctional attempt to put a good face on a bad situation by denying the impact addiction is having on the family system…Family members often collude in this denial and anyone who attempts to turn the spotlight onto harsh reality of addiction may be perceived as disloyal. They run in place to keep up appearances (to themselves as well as others).” Denial of addiction in young adults often comes in the form of writing off substance use as a part of growing up, an act of rebellion or a phase that a young adult will “grow out of.” Parents may not want to recognize addiction in a child thinking it is their fault or a sign of bad parenting, although there are so many factors that contribute to morphine abuse that no young adult is immune no matter how good or bad his or her childhood. Denying the reality of addiction in young adults or the importance of speaking to others and asking for help allows substance use problems to grow. One of the first challenges young adults seeking recovery face is overcoming their own, and often their family or friends’, denial.

Can Young Adults Recover from Addiction?

When most of those using illegal substances are young adults, many of those needing help or finding recovery will be young adults as well. In 2010 SAMHSA found the rates of illegal substance abuse to be, “16.6 percent at ages 16 or 17. The highest rate of current illicit drug use was among 18 to 20 year olds (23.1 percent), with the next highest rate among 21 to 25 year olds (20.5 percent)…the rate was 14.8 percent among those aged 26 to 29,” and continued to decline as age increased. The rate of substance use among young adults highlights that addiction is a problem this population faces and that recovery services need to be made available.

While there are many recovery programs across the country, and the number of these programs is growing and the quality of services is increasing as awareness and understanding of addiction reaches the public, not all are prepared to help young adults. Adolescent and Young Adult Addiction shares, “Probationers ages 18-25 who enrolled in an outpatient drug rehabilitation program had significantly worse outcomes than older adults…Young adults had less capacity for self-reflection and were less able to take personal responsibility for their recovery than adults over age 25. Other researchers have noted that young adults have a higher incidence of psychiatric problems.” This does not mean young adults seeking morphine recovery cannot find it; it means young adults and their families need to find treatment programs that understand the challenges young adults face. They need to make sure they are professionally screened for co-occurring mental health issues and receive integrated treatment if these are present. Treating just addiction or just a mental health concern without integrating treatment is often a recipe for relapse, but addressing both at once provides the best chance for a healthy life of recovery.

Other challenges young adults in recovery face is overcoming where they are in life. Adolescent and Young Adult Addiction explains that when compared to adults, “Transition age youth also have more unstable relationships with family, friends, and romantic partners, and are more mistrustful of treatment professionals than older adults.

Psychology Today draws a similar picture of the challenges unique to young adults: “The relapse rate is even higher among young adults, particularly those who began using drugs in early adolescence, have weak social support networks, abuse multiple drugs, or have co-occurring mental health disorders. These youth lack most or all of the positive predictors of success, such as academic achievement and a healthy peer group, and have many of the factors that increase the risk of relapse.” These facts about the challenges of morphine recovery are not meant to discourage young adults or their families. Both of these sources highlight the importance of mental health care and healthy social support. Understanding where young adults face the greatest challenges to recovery helps them find the professional resources that understand where they are in life and provide services such as motivational therapy, integrated treatment, social skills training, peer support groups and long-term aftercare that can help them surmount these challenges.

Finding Recovery as a Young Adult

If you or the young adult in your life struggles with morphine abuse or with finding or maintaining recovery, do not wait for him or her to grow out of it. Take action and get help. Call our toll-free helpline to learn more about treatment programs designed specifically for young adults. We are here 24 hours a day to help you find the resources you need and help manage details such as taking time off from school, navigating insurance coverage and making the right choice when it comes to treatment.