New Study on Addictions in Young Adults
Teenage Brains Are More Susceptible to Developing Addictions

Addictions in young adults are tragic — they rob young adults of some of the most important years they have for developing emotional tools, gaining relationship skills, developing a sense of self and getting an education. But when do these addictions first start? It has long been known that substance use has a major and lasting impact on developing brains. However, a new study, which was published in the peer-reviewed journal JAMA Pediatrics, suggests (more specifically) that adolescents are inclined to develop addictions far more rapidly than adults.

Inpatient Treatment; Addiction Treatment Services; Young Adults in Recovery; Young Adults in Sobriety; Rehab for Young Adults

Researchers from the National Institute on Drug Abuse analyzed data that was collected by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health between the years 2015 and 2018. They found that “10.7% of teenagers between the age of 12 and 17 developed cannabis use disorders, versus 6.4% of young adults between the age of 18 and 25.”

The study also found that adolescents were more likely than young adults to develop an addiction to prescription opioids, stimulants and central nervous system depressants. “11.2% of teens were addicted to prescribed opioids, versus 6.9% young adults; 13.9% of teens were addicted to prescribed stimulants, versus 3.9% of young adults; 11.2% of teens were addicted to prescribed tranquilizers, versus 4.7% of young adults.”

The implications of these findings stress further the importance of steering teenagers away from habit-forming substances, even if prescribed by a doctor. The teenage brain’s ability to become addicted seems to be, according to the study, more susceptible to addiction than the brains of young adults. Unfortunately these addictions follow teenagers into their young adulthoods, and if not arrested, well into their adulthoods. 

Because marijuana has been legalized in the vast majority of states throughout the U.S. — and because prescription medications can be found in the majority of household medicine cabinets — it is important for adolescents and their loved ones to understand the distinction between recreational use and substance abuse, and to understand that even recreational drug use can have lasting negative impacts on adolescents with still-developing brains. Numerous studies point towards the fact that brain development continues into the early and mid-20s, and that using chemical substances of any kind before the brain has fully developed increases the risk of substance dependence significantly.

If you or someone you know has found themselves as a young adult stuck in a pattern of substance abuse you started as a teenager, there is help available. At Immersion Recovery Center we offer effective, age-specific addiction treatment to young adults who have been struggling with drug abuse and dependence. If your loved one is under the age of 18, we can also help you find an appropriate program for them. It is important to seek treatment as soon as possible. We’re here to answer all your questions. contact us today to find out more about the road to recovery.

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Addictions in Young Adults & Teenagers
Facts & Statistics

According to the 2020 Monitoring the Future Survey, 21.3 percent of 8th graders have used an illicit drug at least once during their lifetimes; 37.3 percent of 10th graders have used an illicit drug at least once; and 46.6 percent of 12th graders have engaged in illicit drug use. There are many risks involved in adolescent substance use that go beyond stunted cognitive development.

Additional risks include:

  • An increase in risk-taking behaviors, like combining substances, driving while intoxicated or engaging in promiscuous/unprotected sex
  • Psychological and health-related issues that carry on into adulthood, like high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and chronic insomnia
  • A significantly compromised performance at school, which might include truancies, a steep decline in grades and issues with classmates and authoritative figures
  • Emotional issues and uncomfortable emotions like low self-esteem, social isolation, a lack of self-worth and depression

If you have an adolescent who has been engaged in drug or alcohol use — recreational or otherwise — there are several steps you can take to help edge him or her in the direction of sobriety. Initiate an open and honest dialogue about the dangers of developing an addiction without being accusatory or scolding. Your adolescent will respond better to conversation if he or she does not feel like there is a risk of “getting in trouble.” Plan events and time that is spent just with your teenager, during which you can work on bolstering healthy communication and getting to know more about what difficulties and challenges he or she might be facing.

If your loved one unfortunately has already fallen into a pattern of drug or alcohol abuse and is now over the age of 18, Immersion Recovery Center can help. Addiction in young adults are important to treat as soon as possible. We offer a comprehensive and age-specific young-adult program that allows young adults to relate to one another on a deep and authentic level as they learn how to navigate a substance-free life.

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Why Are Addictions in Young Adults Difficult to Treat?

Addictions in young adults can be difficult to treat because young people come with many reservations about sobriety.

Some of these reservations include:

  • They are afraid of being judged by their peers
  • The idea of staying sober “forever” can be extremely overwhelming
  • They feel as if they are alone in their struggles with drug addiction
  • They don’t know how they will “have fun” if they can’t use drugs or drink
  • Young people have a more difficult time making rational decisions
  • They are concerned about what they are going to do in social situations

It is crucial that young adults enter a program that understands these specific difficulties and can thoroughly address these concerns. At Immersion Recovery Center we focus on teaching our young adult clients how to be sober as a young person. We have highly-experiences psychologists who know how to work with young adults, and the sober community near Immersion in Delray Beach has an extremely active community of young people in recovery.

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Addictions in Young Adults
Types of Addiction Treatment

At Immersion Recovery we have multiple levels of care appropriate for treating addictions in young adults, including medical detox, residential inpatient, partial hospitalization (PHP) and intensive outpatient (IOP). We understand this terminology can be new and confusing for parents or young adults just learning about recovery. Here are some brief descriptions of what each level of care entails:

  1. Medical Detox — This phase of recovery is the first vital step to getting on the road to recovery. If an individual has been abusing drugs or alcohol for any length of time, their body has become accustomed to operating with the substance . When this substance is suddenly yanked from the central nervous system, individuals experience a range of withdrawal symptoms that can be very uncomfortable, and even life-threatening, if not treated properly. Our medical detox offers 24/7 medical supervision, medication assisted treatment, therapy, holistic treatments (such as yoga and meditation), case management and aftercare planning. After an individual is physically stabilized (which can take anywhere between 3 to 14 days), we help them transfer into the next appropriate level of care to continue their journey of recovery.
  2. Residential Inpatient Treatment — Residential inpatient treatment is a form of treatment where young adults come to live in a residential treatment setting for approximately 30 to 90 days, depending on the severity of their addiction. This part of treatment involves a wide range of individual, family and group therapies, educational workshops, life-skills training, 12-step meetings and holistic treatment methods. At Immersion we also help young adults begin work in the 12 steps of recovery, which you can learn more about here.
  3. Partial Hospitalization (PHP) — This term sounds scary, but we promise you it’s not. This level of care really means a young adult spends part of their time in a treatment setting — attending therapy, workshops, etc. — and the other part of their time living in a beautiful sober-living home with a supportive community of individuals also new to recovery.
  4. Intensive Outpatient Treatment (IOP) — This form of treatment is generally seen as the logical transition for individuals as they begin to be in the world again. Individuals can attend work or school while attending groups a few times a week and either living at home or in a sober living home. This form of treatment can be entered after a medical detox or inpatient stay for some individuals who might not have gone as deep into their addictions as others.

Which level of treatment to seek is sometimes a difficult question to answer. The answer depends on the severity of an individual’s addiction, their current life circumstances and what insurance coverage they may or may not have. Immersion’s compassionate and empathetic admissions staff are here to help answer all your questions and help you determine what path is right for you or your loved one. Contact us today.

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Addiction Treatment Services for Young Adults

No matter which form of treatment an individual chooses, there are some essential components to all Immersion’s programs. These include:

  • Intervention Services – If an individual needs motivation to seek treatment in the first place, Immersion’s highly trained professional interventionist can help families intervene to help their loved one.
  • Individual & group therapy sessions – We offer our clients daily group therapy sessions and individual therapy sessions that take place at least once a week.
  • Family therapy & Family Workshop – At Immersion Recovery Center we believe that family involvement is essential to the long-term recovery of adolescents who have been struggling with drug abuse. We offer professionally facilitated family therapy sessions and additional services for the parents of our clients.
  • Dual diagnosis treatment options – If a client is suffering from a co-occurring mental illness, he or she has access to comprehensive dual diagnosis treatment options.
  • Life skills training – We teach our clients how to function independently, and we offer educational placement services and vocational training.
  • Relapse prevention training – Clients learn how to identify and work through their own personal relapse triggers while coping with peer pressure.
  • 12 step program immersion – The 12-step method of recovery is crucial for adolescents who have been struggling with substance abuse, seeing as they benefit immensely from peer support.

If you or your loved one is a young adult in need of help to break the bondage of their addiction, we are here to help. Please contact us today so we can help you walk through the process, step-by-step. On the other end of the line or message you will find a loving, empathetic and compassionate individual who is passionate about helping you and your family find healing.

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Reviewed for accuracy by :

Serving as the Inpatient Clinical Director at Immersion Recovery Center, Susan will work directly with staff members, clients, and family members to ensure the clinical program remains as effective and individualized as possible. Susan is no stranger to the fields of behavioral health and addiction. She has over 25 years of experience, working in an inpatient setting, an outpatient setting, acute stabilization and nearly all other settings in the realm of addiction recovery.