The number of youth in recovery is on the rise – that’s a fact. The debate lies in why. It could be that the disease of addiction is spreading, or it could be that it’s just more acceptable to talk about it now. Either way, youth in recovery (those in their teens and 20’s), are in need of resources and support. The experiences of youth in recovery are often very different than older adults. While the addiction is the same, youth in recovery face special challenges based on their particular stage in life.
Attending College While Sober
For most teenagers, the transition to college life is tough. For youth in recovery, adjusting to college life can be even harder. At most colleges, drinking and partying is a main component to college life. It goes with the territory, and lots of college students spend their weekends letting loose with drugs and alcohol. Youth in recovery who don’t participate could be treated as outsiders by their peers, or they can find that the temptation to join in is too strong to handle. They often feel a struggle between wanting to be like everyone else and wanting to stay sober.
While most youth in recovery feel challenged by college life, the good thing is that it is easier than ever before to find support and acceptance on campus. The subset of youth in recovery is growing, and as a result sober college students are able to find each other and unite. Some universities are even offering sober dormitory housing to students. For college youth in recovery, on-campus support for their sobriety is crucial and allows them to make the most of their time in college even amidst the pressure.
The 21st Birthday: A Rite of Passage
For youth in recovery, their 21st birthdays can be a particular challenge. The 21st birthday is hyped up so much that it’s considered a major event in a young person’s life. When a person turns 21, they’re expected to go out and get drunk, and they’re supposed to have an incredible time doing so. For youth in recovery, 21st birthdays can be hard to deal with. Leading up to the event, youth in recovery may feel anxious. They oftentimes feel sadness and regret at not being able to celebrate like their peers.
When a 21st birthday is approaching for a youth in recovery, it’s a good idea for them to reach out and seek additional support. It’s a perfect time to reinforce their recovery with extra meetings and spending time with sober friends. It’s also important for them to realize that being sober on their 21st birthday doesn’t mean they have to sit at home alone watching TV. It’s a time to remember that being in recovery is fun, and that drugs and alcohol aren’t needed to make a birthday exciting and eventful.
For youth in recovery, these social challenges are obstacles no longer faced by older addicts. Fortunately for the youth in recovery, as they successfully overcome these obstacles, they often come out even stronger in their recovery than ever before and better equipped to handle future challenges.