Overcoming substance use disorders at any age can be incredibly challenging. However, young adults often encounter unique barriers that make their recovery journey exceptionally difficult.
To help young adults succeed in addiction treatment, it is important for them (and their loved ones) to understand the reasons why they develop substance use disorders. Additionally, it is vital to identify these specific challenges and how they can impact the road to addiction recovery.
Common Causes of Substance Use Disorders in Young Adults
Approximately 5.1 million young adults report that they suffer from a substance use disorder. 1 But why are substance use disorders so prevalent in young adults? This trend can be linked to many different factors, including:
Incomplete Cognitive Maturation
The prefrontal cortex, which is often called the frontal lobe, doesn’t mature fully until around 25 years of age. 2This part of the brain is crucial for controlling inhibitions and making decisions.
Many young adults encounter potentially addictive substances before their frontal lobe fully matures. As a result, they are more likely to develop a substance use disorder than adults age 25 and older.
In high school and college, young adults may face intense social pressure to experiment with alcohol or illicit substances. Failing to partake in these substances can make young adults feel alienated or left out.
Young adults who attend college far from home and live on campus experience some of the most intense social pressure. Frequent parties, college sporting events, and other gatherings often center around the consumption of alcohol or illicit drugs.
Lack of Access to Mental Health Services
SAMHSA found that approximately 8.9 million young adults stated that they were suffering from a mental illness. 1 While a large percentage of this group received some mental health services, 42% went untreated. 1
Undoubtedly, at least some of these young adults attempted to self-medicate with alcohol or drugs. The presence of a substance use disorder and a co-occurring mental health concern could compound the impacts of these two conditions.
Unique Addiction Treatment Challenges Facing Young Adults
When seeking addiction treatment, young adults may encounter several unique challenges, including:
Incomplete Frontal Lobe Maturity
The aforementioned lack of frontal lobe maturity puts young adults at a greater risk of developing substance use disorders and can make recovery more challenging.
Young adults may find it challenging to process the long-term consequences of substance use disorders. They may also have difficulty controlling their urges to consume alcohol or drugs once they have started suffering from an addiction.
Ineffective Coping Skills
Individuals who develop substance use disorders in their teens may not have developed a healthy set of life and coping skills. This is particularly true if they did not grow up in a supportive environment.
A lack of coping skills can hinder recovery after a young adult completes a regimented addiction treatment program. Once they return to their “normal” routine, they may have difficulty managing the stresses of daily life. Addiction treatment programs for young adults should include a life skills component to address this concern.
No Support System
If you’re a young adult who hasn’t started a family yet and has broken ties with your inner circle, you may lack a support system and find it difficult to stay sober.
The best addiction treatment programs connect young adults with resources within their community. They also include a family therapy component to help young adults restore relationships. By providing young adults with a support system, these programs lay the foundation for lasting sobriety.
Embarrassment Due to Social Stigmas
Seeking addiction treatment can be embarrassing at any age, but it is especially so for young adults. Individuals in this age bracket tend to be very conscious of how their peers perceive them.
However, young adults must realize that seeking recovery is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, their commitment to improving themselves and achieving personal growth should be praised.
Addiction Recovery Young Adults Can Trust at Silver Sands Recovery
Young adults face a broad range of challenges that others in recovery may not encounter. Therefore they must connect with a rehab program that understands their needs.
The addiction treatment center at Silver Sands Recovery is just such a program. Our caring team uses techniques designed to help young people overcome the burden of substance use disorders. Our program connects patients with interventions such as family therapy and physical activities in a welcoming, supportive environment.
If you are a young adult seeking addiction treatment services, contact Silver Sands Recovery today.
About the author:
Lisa Waknin is the Founder and Director of Silver Sands Recovery, located in Prescott, Arizona. Lisa started Silver Sands Recovery after immersing herself in the addiction treatment world for several years to figure out what could be done differently to help her daughter and others like her to overcome addiction and stay sober. She believes in a hands-on treatment approach, which includes taking someone out of their environment, providing a 90-day program in a structured environment. During treatment, clients not only recover physically but also learn to live their life again. Lisa is a sought-after expert speaker for recovery support groups, charities, schools, communities, and companies wanting to educate themselves on the explosion of opiate and heroin abuse in our country and the best way to understand, treat, and beat it.