Is it possible for someone to be too young to get sober? Unfortunately, addiction doesn’t discriminate based on age. For a teen or young adult struggling with substance abuse, this can be a devastating truth. It is difficult for anyone to make the decision to give up and ask for help. This is especially challenging for people under the age of 30. A recent study found that 90 percent of people addicted to alcohol, tobacco or drugs began using them before the age of 18. Can you be too young to get sober? Absolutely not. In fact, more adolescents and young adults are making the decision to get sober than ever before. Not only are they breaking free from the grasp of addiction, but they are also experiencing and taking advantage of unique opportunities that sobriety offers.
Sobriety Seems Not Only Unattainable But Undesirable
For today’s youth, sobriety may not only seem unattainable but undesirable as well. Once substance abuse has become normalized in a young person’s life, the delusional belief that “fun” can only be had when alcohol and drugs are involved can quickly develop. We live in a culture that heavily emphasizes the correlation between having fun and recreational drug and alcohol use. It feels as if most leisure and social activities revolve entirely around alcohol and drug use. If you are a teen or young adult, it may seem like a lot of fun to drink or get high. People who are intoxicated don’t seem to have a care in the world. The truth is, the consequences associated with drug and alcohol use are extremely damaging. Hangovers, emergency room visits, DUIs, poor academic and work performance, and strained personal relationships are all consequences of drug and alcohol misuse that affect even those who aren’t necessarily struggling with addiction. For a teen that is struggling with substance abuse issues, making the decision to get sober may feel like a huge social sacrifice. This couldn’t be further from the truth. There are many activities that are safer and more enjoyable than getting drunk or high. Sober Courage wrote an article listing 100 fun things to do sober. Getting sober not only helps to ensure that the addicted individual won’t lose their life to drug or alcohol addiction but that they will also be given the opportunity to truly live life. The idea that someone is too young to get sober because they still want to have fun doesn’t take into account the fact that getting sober means the fun is just beginning!
High Bottom vs. Low Bottom
High bottom and low bottom are terms often used in addiction treatment and addiction recovery programs. Whether you are familiar with these actual terms or not, most people are aware of the stereotypical image of the low bottom alcoholic. The low bottom alcoholic or addict is generally defined as the individual who has suffered severe and drastic consequences prior to making the decision to get help. These are people who have done jail time, lost jobs, homes, cars, driver’s licenses or who have committed serious crimes as a result of their addiction. The high bottom alcoholic or addict is generally defined as the high functioning addict, someone who was able to avoid serious consequences prior to making the decision to get sober. These people have typically not lost much as a result of their addiction. While they may not have suffered severe physical consequences the emotional consequences are often as severe as the low bottom addict. Many teens and young adults struggling with addiction could be classified as high bottom addiction. While they may not have suffered from severe physical consequences, they face a unique set of challenges. Addicts that haven’t experienced devastating losses often struggle with identifying as an alcoholic or addict and are often able to convince themselves that they don’t need to quit drinking or using, yet. Denial is of often a symptom of addiction, especially for high bottom addicts and alcoholics. When trying to determine whether or not someone is suffering from addiction, it is imperative that people don’t judge their issues based on perceived consequences but focus on why they are abusing drugs or alcohol.
Addiction: More About the Why Rather Than the What
For some teens and young adults, drug and alcohol use starts with mere experimentation. This can stem from curiosity or peer pressure. Others begin using drugs or alcohol as an escape from uncomfortable emotions or challenging circumstances. It is important to focus on why an individual is abusing drugs or alcohol rather than what they are abusing. Regardless of the perceived danger of a drug, an individual who is addicted to alcohol is suffering just as much as an individual who is addicted to heroin. Substance abuse is a symptom of underlying issues. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America found that 20 percent of substance abusers have an anxiety disorder or a mood disorder, like depression. Genetics, environment, trauma, mental illness, peer influence, and personality are all contributing factors to substance abuse. In order to effectively treat a teen or young adult suffering from addiction, the underlying issues that contributed to the development of substance abuse issues must be identified and addressed. This offers the individual the best chance for emotional and physical recovery from addiction.
On top of the traditionally classified disorders, addiction is about checking out. Asking why someone needs to check out from living life on life’s terms and then helping to address these issues is the best way for teens to get sober. The benefits for this are enormous – when a teen is unable to deal with life and its obstacles in a healthy way and instead has to consistently check out, their chances of living a healthy, happy and successful life are slim to none. Even without drugs and alcohol in the picture, they will constantly use other sources of comfort to get out of themselves. When they work through these issues, the possibilities are limitless.
Endless Opportunities for Youth People in Recovery
The teenage and young adult years are often the most challenging in one’s life. This is due to the hormonal and developmental changes that occur during these critical years. They can also be a group of amazing years that set the stage for their future. If a teen or young adult is struggling with substance abuse, this significantly increases the emotional challenges they will experience, which detract from their ability to experience everything else that life has to offer. If a teen or young adult is able to accept help for their substance abuse issues, they will be offered a unique opportunity that others their age may never experience. The growth that takes place while dealing with addiction is immense. Self-exploration is a major component in addiction treatment. Addiction recovery programs focus on emotional growth, humility and personal accountability. For a teen or young adult, self-exploration can open new doors and provide endless opportunities. Teens and young adults in addiction recovery often learn effective ways to develop and rebuild interpersonal and familial relationships, adapt to new circumstances, and identify personal strengths and weaknesses. These are invaluable tools that many teens and young adults rarely consciously utilize on a regular basis. When you have a teen or young adult who has tapped into these inner resources, they are empowered to follow their dreams, be the best person they can be, and reach new heights that they could never have achieved in their addictions. The tools acquired when dealing with addiction last long after the drugs and alcohol are out of the picture.
Addiction Treatment Options for Teens and Young Adults
Can you be too young to get sober? Absolutely not. There is no age limit for addiction. There are various addiction treatment options available for teens and young adults who are suffering from substance abuse issues. When seeking help for someone struggling with addiction, it is suggested to seek guidance from an addiction specialist. An addiction specialist will be able to assess the individual and determine the best course of action. Teens and young adults with substance abuse issues face different challenges than adults with substance abuse issues. Age specific treatment programs are able to not only address these unique needs but also provide a recovery community in which the individual can identify with and receive support from. A recovery community is an essential component in the addiction recovery process. If you or someone you love is suffering from drug or alcohol addiction, seeking help is the first step in the recovery process. Do you have any experience getting sober young or watching a loved one do so? Tell us about it in the comments section!