Challenges Facing Young Adults in Recovery
Addiction recovery is a daunting experience for anyone, but young adults face certain unique challenges that can make it even more difficult. On both a physical and psychological level, teens and college students face an uphill battle when they try to confront the disease of addiction. With the proper help, though, young adults can experience deep and sustained healing before drugs and alcohol cause permanent and irreparable harm to their bodies, minds and spirits.
The Recklessness of Youth
Young people, by their very nature, are not usually concerned about their mortality, their long-term health, or the repercussions their choices may have down the road. Many young adults are caught in the uniquely precarious place between the constant authority and protection of home and the need to fully support themselves out in the world.
College students are especially prone to take full advantage of their new freedom before realizing that they may, in fact, be surrendering to a different kind of bondage in the form of addiction.
When a young person enters a recovery program, these feelings of immortality and recklessness can complicate the important work they must accomplish. Young adults often struggle with the following aspects of treatment:
- During counseling sessions they may be unaware of the underlying psychological issues that fuel their addictive behavior
- They often don’t grasp the seriousness of their condition, believing that they just have to do their time before they can return to their habits
- Some young people end up facing addiction recovery following very difficult lives where they experienced neglect or abuse and may have a hard time imaging a life worth being sober for
- Many young people are inherently rebellious and distrustful of adults and authority
For these reasons, young adults may not take recovery as seriously and may need extra support to stay sober.
The Power of Peer Pressure
Young adults tend to be far more susceptible to the effects of peer pressure and image cultivation than adults. If a teen or twenty-something addict feels that his peers are all getting drunk or high and that it is an acceptable part of his community, he is unlikely to embrace the need to get clean.
Most young addicts have cut ties with their non-using friends and family and only have relationships with fellow users. This creates a sort of myopic effect that blinds these young people and robs them of proper perspective. For them, substance abuse is a perfectly acceptable part of life. They may be unable or unwilling to imagine a future where getting drunk or high is not included.
Addiction and the Family
Many young people are also still very impacted by the attitudes and actions of the members of their immediate families. Dysfunctional relationships with parents or siblings, or the sudden loss of a parent, can have a devastating impact on their self-esteem and their willingness to engage in the recovery process.
Codependent parents may also undermine the recovery process through their own misinformed and unhelpful words and actions. This is one reason that comprehensive family counseling is so important for young people in recovery. Addiction is truly a family disorder and everyone under the same roof has a role to play in its treatment.