Substance abuse among college-aged adults is a serious concern in the United States. Recent statistics show that a little over 24% of people in addiction treatment are between 18-25 years old. Sadly, young adults are often less likely to complete treatment, despite having a longer average length of stay than older adults.1
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 a time when many young men and women are at a high risk to develop addiction. Even if ayoung adult does not attend college, early adulthood is often a time of new beginnings, and new experiences away from home and the family of origin. Suddenly, there are fewer boundaries and rules to consider. This newfound freedom can lead to experimentation and addiction.
Why Young Adults Enter Treatment
The threat of “being in trouble” with parents or loved ones, an employer, the university, or law enforcement are all major motivating factors to enter treatment. While this is understandable, treatment works best when the addicted person truly wants to change. This is where treatment resonates the most and the individual is able to truly embrace recovery.
It’s often called “rock bottom” when an individual realizes that his or her life is falling apart due to addiction. However, “rock bottom” does not have to lead a person into treatment. Everyone seeks change for different reasons.
Recovery often begins with some type of detoxification period and then treatment lasts from 30 to 90 days in most rehab facilities. Treatment often consists of both group therapy, individual therapy, and medical care. This offers a safe place for participants to build new skills and recover from traumas or mental health issues. As the person begins to truly understand the addiction, he also begins to understand and make safety plans around cravings and triggers.
A Recovery Plan After Treatment
It’s essential to plan ahead before you or your loved one leaves treatment. This plan does not need to be complicated, but it does need to be thorough. Fortunately, you are not alone when your loved one leaves treatment. Most reputable rehab programs offer an aftercare plan. Also, a trusted therapist can help everyone with the transition back to normal life.
Aftercare reinforces the concepts learned in rehab within the context of normal day-to-day life. Some aftercare options help strengthen the goals of sober living in the regular world of temptations or unhealthy people, places, or things.
Find a Stable Living Environment
An environment that supports sobriety is essential. If a loved one lives with a roommate or family member 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 substances 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
You or your loved one will have more free time in recovery. Getting high or drunk will no longer be an option. It is important for supporters and families to communicate and find new hobbies, activities, or goals. 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 support and required accountability and then slowly scale back some over time. 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 recovery professionals will be glad to speak with you anytime, day or night. Don’t make assumptions—get the answers you need right now.
1 Morse, S. A. & MacMaster, S. “Characteristics and Outcomes of College-Age Adults Enrolled in Private Residential Treatment: Implications for Practice.”Journal of Social Work Practice in the Addiction (2013). Web. Accessed 14 July 2017.