Alcohol and Drug Rehab for Young Adults

3 min read · 5 sections
Facing age-specific challenges and major life changes, young adults ages 18 to 25 have some of the highest rates of substance misuse issues.1 When it comes to treating substance use disorders in this unique population, connecting with peers and those that share similar life experiences can foster support and a sense of community. Learn more about young adult treatment programs and explore a top-notch facility offering this type of care.
What you will learn:
Stats regarding prevalence of young adult substance misuse.
Risk factors and signs of drug misuse in young adults.
Young adult inpatient rehab and other treatment options.

Substance Use and Young Adults

While the definition of “young adults” varies by organization, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) defines this population as those between the ages of 18 to 25.1 As this population transitions from high school to college, work, and other adult endeavors, they experience considerable changes mentally, physically, and socially. During this time, the brain continues to develop, and onset for various mental disorders—should they occur—often happens at this point.2 In fact, the  2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) indicated that the percentage of adults aged 18 or older with a serious mental illness was highest among those aged 18 to 25 (accounting for 3.8 million people in this survey).1

Additionally, risky behavior typically peaks in young adulthood, as youth struggle to secure employment, become financially secure, and reach a state of well-being. While these challenges often cause stress, confusion, and fear, young adults are still expected to take on new responsibilities.2 Unfortunately, these added stressors and widespread change can impact the development of substance use disorders.

The NSDUH indicates that young adults made up the largest percentage of those with a substance use disorder or an alcohol use disorder in the past year. Regrettably, however, only 1.3% of those aged 18 to 25 received substance use treatment in that same time period.1 Clearly, then, this population—perhaps more than most—needs substance-misuse support and treatment.

Risk Factors for Substance Use in Young Adults

Although no single factor can predict whether someone will develop a substance use disorder, some factors can increase the risk of doing so.3 Risk factors for substance misuse include:3,4

  • Biology. While gender, other mental disorders, and ethnicity also play a role, a person’s genes account for roughly half of their risk for addiction.
  • Substance Use Onset. Given the fact that substance use can impair healthy brain development, the earlier that someone uses drugs, the greater the likelihood that they will develop a substance use disorder.
  • Environment. Growing up with a parent who has a substance use disorder increases the risk of addiction in adulthood. Other environmental factors that contribute to the risk of addiction include a history of abuse or other type of traumatic event, stress, peer pressure, lack of parental guidance, and early exposure to drugs.
  • Externalizing behavior in adolescence. Misbehavior at school, aggression, delinquency, and being sexually active in adolescence is associated with developing a substance use disorder in young adulthood.

Signs of Drug Misuse in Young Adults

So what are some signs that a young adult might be misusing substances? The American Psychiatric Association has developed an official list of criteria for diagnosing a substance use disorder. However, some of the outward signs of addiction can include:5

  • Lack of effort put into appearance.
  • Decline in grades.
  • Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed.
  • Missing or skipping classes.
  • Difficulty getting along with family members and friends.
  • Behavior difficulties at school.
  • New legal problems.
  • Change in eating or sleeping habits.

Addiction Treatment for Young Adults

There’s no single best treatment option for everyone. So the best type of rehab for young adults is the one that’s customized to meet the needs of each individual. However, to better determine the type of treatment that’s right for you or someone you love, it helps to understand the options. So here’s a brief rundown of the various levels of care available:6,7

  • Medically assisted detox. During detox, which is available in inpatient and outpatient settings, patients receive treatment for withdrawal symptoms and medical monitoring to ensure their safety.
  • Outpatient. In traditional outpatient rehab programs, people live at home and receive care at treatment facilities and/or via telehealth options. Along with individual and group therapy, outpatient care can include education to help individuals learn coping skills and better understand how to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
  • Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOPs). A step up from traditional outpatient care, IOPs offer many of the same types of therapies just at a more intense level and for more hours per week.
  • Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHPs). Also known as day treatment, PHPs are the halfway point between inpatient and outpatient care. PHPs typically require patients to participate in treatment several hours a day and several days per week. As the most intensive form of outpatient care, PHPs offer similar care to that of inpatient programs, but patients live at home for the duration of treatment.
  • Inpatient. Inpatient treatment provides care 24 hours a day, usually at a substance misuse treatment facility or sometimes connected to a hospital. Treatment is highly structured and includes a plethora of counseling, therapy, and educational opportunities.
  • Aftercare. Aftercare is the continuing care a person receives after completing substance use treatment to help prevent relapse. Continuing care can include case management (which can link people to services such as recovery housing), 12-step groups, outpatient counseling, sober living, and more.

Inpatient Rehab for Young Adults

At its core, young adult inpatient rehab is often similar to inpatient care for older adults. However, some facilities such as Laguna Treatment Center in Aliso Viejo, CA, offer inpatient care—including age-based group counseling, peer groups, and education—that specifically caters to the 18 to 26 age group.

Inpatient rehab for young adults offers a highly structured environment where individuals live and receive 24/7 care. The environment provides around-the-clock access to medical and addiction professionals to support recovery. Plus, patients are surrounded by other young adults with substance use disorders who can provide peer support as well.

Inpatient rehab for young adults usually includes:

Additionally, many inpatient facilities offer nutritional counseling, health and wellness activities (e.g., yoga/meditation, recreation space, outdoor activities, etc.), and a host of additional services and amenities.

Benefits of Inpatient Rehab for Young Adults

So why seek out an inpatient treatment option geared to young adults? In effect, it allows patients to connect with their own species, so to speak.

It’s often helpful for those with substance use disorders to converse and connect with people that are in the same stage of life. Young adults often have shared experiences and goals, which allow them to make more meaningful connections with each other. For example, chances are two people in their early 20s will have more shared experiences, commonalities, and struggles than a 20-year-old and a 50-year-old, even if they share the same substance use disorder.

Rehab for Young Adults at American Addiction Centers

American Addiction Centers (AAC) offers high-quality treatment facilities across the United States that provide excellent evidence-based programs. While its Laguna Treatment Center has a long history of providing care for adults of all ages, it offers a treatment program specifically geared toward adults aged 18 to 26.

Providing the aforementioned benefits, not to mention superior evidence-based treatment, the young adult program is designed to support holistic recovery via components that address the physical, mental, and emotional needs of this population. The program provides young adults with the tools and support they need to build a strong foundation for lasting recovery. Activities for this population include:

  • Yoga and mindfulness.
  • Expressive therapy.
  • Nutrition education.
  • Health and fitness activities.

As part of its offerings for all adults, Laguna Treatment Center provides a host of treatment and services, including:

  • Medical detox.
  • Inpatient residential program.
  • Addiction-focused healthcare.
  • Co-occurring mental health disorder treatment.
  • Individual and group therapy.
  • Psychoeducation.
  • Medication-assisted treatment.
  • Aftercare planning.
  • Transitional housing assistance.
  • Alumni program.

To learn more about the young adult treatment program at Laguna Treatment Center—or to discover other treatment facilities under the American Addiction Centers umbrella—contact our admissions navigators at . Available for confidential conversations 24/7, they can answer your questions, verify your health insurance, and discuss payment options. Reach out to take your first step toward recovery today.




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