Addiction treatment for young adults

Where can young adults needing addiction treatment get help? We review the basics of addiction treatment for young adults here.

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According to recent surveys conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, young adults ages 18 to 25 are more likely than any other age group to abuse drugs. Different populations require different approach in addiction treatment. There is a simple explanation, young adults have different habits and psychology. So, putting them in the same treatment with, e.g. the elderly in addiction recovery, doesn’t promise the best outcomes. It’s no surprise, then, that addiction treatment for young adults is a growing need in this country.

So, where can a young adult go to get addiction treatment? And what can you expect if you’re seeking it out? We review here, and invite your questions about young adults and addiction treatment at the end.

Young adults and addiction treatment

Young adulthood is often a time for a person to make the adjustment from being a teenager, dependent on one’s parents, to becoming a self-sufficient independent adult. Many young adults will also find themselves on their own and away from the watchful eyes of their parents, making this a perfect time for experimentation, drug abuse, and possible addiction.

Fortunately, there’s a great deal of help for young adults, and addiction treatment services for this demographic are becoming more widely available. The type of treatment that a young adult should choose will depend mostly on his or her individual situation. Young adults seeking addiction treatment can benefit from the following:

1. Inpatient addiction treatment requires a young adult to reside in the treatment facility during treatment. The time spent in an inpatient addiction treatment program can range from 30 days to several months. While it’s often the most effective type of treatment, it’s also the most expensive and inconvenient. Individuals in inpatient treatment are unable to leave the facility frequently and may not be able to attend to other responsibilities, such as work or school.

2. Outpatient addiction treatment does not require a lengthy stay in a drug treatment facility. Instead, recovering addicts attend addiction treatment sessions on an outpatient basis. Some outpatient addiction treatment programs require a person to attend several sessions each week, while others may only require one session per week. Outpatient addiction treatment may not be as intensive as inpatient treatment, but it is usually more affordable and flexible.

3. Partial inpatient addiction treatments include a combination of both inpatient and outpatient treatment. This type of treatment requires young adults to spend several hours at an addiction treatment facility each day. However, participants are not required to reside at the facilities and can usually attend to other responsibilities such as school or work.

Young adult drug addiction treatment

The basic steps of any young adult drug addiction treatment program generally follow those of any drug addiction treatment program. Typically, the program will start with a screening and assessment and be followed by a treatment and aftercare program. The stages of young adult drug addiction treatment program are outlined below.

Assessment: STAGE 1

Before a young adult can be placed in an addiction treatment, an addiction specialist should evaluate them and their drug use. If it’s determined that a young adult has a substance abuse problem, a treatment plan based on his or her individual needs can be created. This plan will usually include the type and duration of treatment, as well as goals that they can work toward during treatment.

Detox and withdrawal: STAGE 2

Detoxification is a time when a person’s body tries to rid itself of any remaining substances, and attempts to function normally without them. Withdrawal symptoms during detox can be very uncomfortable and – in some cases – dangerous. Most young adults are advised to go through withdrawal in a detox facility, both for the sake of comfort and safety.

Psychological and pharmacological treatment: STAGE 3

Young adult drug addiction treatment is a multi-faceted process that involves a number of different components. Individual behavior therapy is one of the most important components of treatment. However, a special emphasis is placed on group therapy as well, since young adults are generally a very social demographic. Other components of treatment usually include medications (such as opiate replacement therapies, antidepressants, and/or anti-anxiety medications), family counseling, and self-help groups.

Aftercare: STAGE 4

Young adult drug addiction treatment is a long process and shouldn’t simply end with the completion of the initial addiction treatment program. Oftentimes, the key to effective young adult drug addiction treatment is the aftercare. Addiction aftercare generally involves continuing outpatient therapy or counseling. In some cases, it may also include a stay in a transitional living facility, or halfway house. This step helps ensure that young adults remain drug-free and self-sufficient. Finally, a good aftercare plan includes support services to match people with support groups, social services, and job placement.

Young adult addiction treatment barriers

What gets in the way of young adults seeking addiction treatment? Sometimes, young adults are not willing or able to get the treatment that they need. In many cases, they may not believe that they need treatment at all. In fact, one of the major reported reasons that young adults did not get addiction treatment was that they didn’t think they needed it. Furthermore, those that do think they need treatment still may not be able to get it. Below is a list of some of the more common young adult addiction treatment barriers.

  • Accessibility of treatment
  • Cost
  • Lack of health insurance
  • Stigmas about addiction treatment
  • Time constraints and other responsibilities

Addicted young adults

What many young adults may not realize is that addiction treatment is not usually difficult to find. Most communities have addiction treatment programs in place. Where can you go for help?

  1. Community leaders. Doctors, religious figures, and community leaders are good people to ask for help when someone needs addiction treatment.
  2. University health centers. College campuses also usually have programs for students struggling with drug addiction problems. Young adult college students can usually find treatment by visiting their campus health center.
  3. Internet. Online searches are also a great way to find local drug addiction treatment facilities. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website ( has a particularly helpful search tool. The SAMHSA substance abuse treatment facility locator can be used to find local addiction treatment facilities that offer payment assistance options, sliding scale fees, and treatment designed for young adults.

Young adult addiction questions

Struggling with an addiction is a tough thing, especially for young adults who are just starting out in life. So, whether you are a young man or a woman in need of addiction treatment, getting treated as soon as possible for an alcohol or drug addiction is imperative for getting a good start in life.

If you are or a loved one is an addicted young adult, we welcome any questions you may have. Simply leave a comment below, and we’ll do our best to address your concerns and help get you going in the right direction.

Reference Sources: MedStar Union Memorial Hospital: Official Page
SAMHSA: Need Treatment? Many Young Adults Say No
SAMHSA: The Unique Challenge of Young Adult Addiction Treatment and Recovery (3969) Drugs & Substance Abuse
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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