Substance abuse among college-aged adults is a serious concern in the United States. Recent statistics show (in a sample of 1,972 people) that 24.1% of participants in treatment were between 18-25 years old. These individuals were also less likely to complete treatment despite having a longer average length of stay.
Why is this? College is typically a time of new experiences, opportunities, growth and learning. While these things can be very positive, college is also is a time where many young men and women are at a high risk to develop addiction. Even if the individual does not attend college, this time is often when young men or women move away from home. Suddenly, there are fewer boundaries and rules to consider. This newfound freedom can lead to experimentation and addiction.
Why Individuals Go Into Treatment
For many individuals, the threat of “being in trouble” with parents or loved ones, an employer or law enforcement may be one of the largest motivating factors to enter treatment. While this is understandable, treatment works best when the addict truly wants to change. This is where the treatment resonates the most and the individual is able to truly embrace recovery. Many times this is called “rock bottom” when an individual realizes that their life is falling apart due to addiction. Once treatment starts, typically there is a withdrawal period and then treatment lasts from 30 to 90 days at a rehab facility. Treatment often consists of both group therapy and individual therapy where the addiction is discussed at length. As the addiction is broken down, the cravings and triggers are discussed as well.
Different Steps Needed after Treatment
After your loved one comes home from treatment, it’s essential to have a plan. This plan does not need to be complicated, either. Best of all, you are not alone when your loved one leaves treatment. A therapist can help you with the transition back to normal life. In many ways, treatment is one of the first steps in the recovery process. Aftercare is an essential part of the ongoing maintenance needed in recovery. Aftercare is typically defined as the support you receive after a rehabilitation program and often includes: support groups, more sessions, counseling or follow-up meetings.
Aftercare reinforces the concepts learned in rehab within the context of normal day-to-day life. Some aftercare options help reinforce the concept of sober living where you may live with much greater temptation should you live with someone who consumes alcohol or drugs.
Find a Stable Living Environment
An environment that supports sobriety is essential. If a loved one lives with a roommate who drinks or does drugs, he or she must not go back to that living situation. For some, a sober living program might be the right fit. This is a place where the temptation to use drugs will be lessened. In these facilities, individuals who struggle with addiction live in a house together and do chores, learn life skills and possibly participate in recovery treatment.
Planning Ahead Supports Sobriety
Your loved one will have more free time on their hands when in recovery. No longer will he or she be spending hours getting high or drunk. It is important to communicate with them and plan out fun activities to do together. Some good examples include going to the park or the gym, meeting for coffee, going to local community events and more. In the early stages, it is best to have more accountability and then slowly scale back some over time as he or she matures in their sobriety. A sponsor is a great way to provide both accountability and support.
If you have any questions about what you can do to help your loved one, please call our helpline. We are here to support and assist you. Our professionally trained admissions coordinators will be glad to speak with you anytime, day or night. Don’t make assumptions—get the answers you need right now.
 Morse, Siobhan A. & MacMaster, Samuel. “Characteristics and Outcomes of College-Age Adults Enrolled in Private Residential Treatment: Implications for Practice.”Journal of Social Work Practice in the Addiction (2013).