Does Age Impact Addiction and Recovery?

January 24, 2023

Written By: Buena Vista Recovery

Addiction is an incredibly destructive disease. While there may be many misconceptions or assumptions made about the demographics of those diagnosed with substance use disorder (SUD), addiction can affect anyone. There is no person — regardless of age, socioeconomic status, education, race, or any other demographic — that is immune to the disease. However, recognizing the role that age plays in the development of addiction is necessary to create an effective recovery plan. 

While addiction is always possible, people of different ages will have their own stresses, goals, and needs throughout the recovery process. Working with professionals to explore how addiction affects each person’s age and lifestyle is necessary to make the most of any professional treatment program. 

Addiction in Teenagers

Teenagers face many unique challenges. At the same time, they are increasingly exposed to addictive substances. Social pressures, academic stresses, and the pains of growing up are all incredibly common. Coupled with any newfound rebellious spirit, innate curiosity, or explorative nature, it is common for teenagers to be exposed to and engage with addictive substances during these formative years. The use of drugs or alcohol among teenagers can be further exacerbated if their perception of such substances has been influenced during these years, such as seeing regular use of these substances at home. 

While using such substances at such a young age is wholly detrimental to teenagers’ physical and emotional health, it does not necessarily mean that every teenager will develop an addiction. However, those that do begin using such substances earlier in life are at a higher risk of developing dangerous relationships with drugs or alcohol. Addressing the use of these substances and the social and personal pressures and stress common around this age in tandem is necessary to address addiction in teenagers.

Addiction in Young Adults

Young adults are often graduating from academic endeavors and beginning their professional lives. This time can be wrought with excitement, stress, uncertainty, pride, and much more. However, it also comes with new degrees of freedom, especially as young adults begin to schedule their own lives, pursue personal interests, and take a greater degree of agency over their lives. 

Still, these newfound freedoms can be dangerous as young adults may not have the skills or strategies to recognize when the use of addictive substances may be becoming problematic. This is exceptionally evident with the use of alcohol, as the ability to legally purchase alcohol and attend 21+ events can lead to unhealthy and excessive use of alcohol during this time. Coupled with new professional and social stresses, new financial responsibilities, and more, it is common for young adults to look to available stress-relief outlets. The use of drugs and alcohol is a common and dangerous method to self-medicate these stresses. 

Parental Substance Use

There are many stresses that parents face that can lead to the development of SUD. Not only can the stresses of continuing to manage professional life and financial burdens be intense, but they can also face additional stresses in raising a child. For some, the stresses inherent in parenting can be emotionally trying, with feelings of entrapment or as if one is out of control of their own schedule commonplace. 

However, parents also face a unique hurdle when a child moves out, either to live on-campus at an educational facility or to live on their own while pursuing professional endeavors. This newfound feeling of “emptiness” in a given household can bring feelings of isolation, depression, and more, often called “empty nest syndrome.” It is common for parents to fill this sudden influx of free time by engaging in drugs or alcohol. Feelings of isolation may cause those experiencing empty nest syndrome to be indifferent to when they engage with addictive substances or other consequences that may accompany their use. 

Addiction in Seniors

Seniors and those in retirement can also commonly experience feelings of isolation and depression, especially as they attempt to establish a new lifestyle after a lifetime of working, parenting, and more. In retirement, seniors may face boredom or feelings of loneliness that can all inform the use of addictive substances. Coupled with the other trials of aging or the necessity of prescription drugs, the use of addictive substances is increasingly common among seniors. 

The Role of Age in Recovery

Addiction is possible at any age. However, the stresses and needs of an individual may be different depending on their stage in life. These needs can greatly inform each person’s best treatment and recovery practices. For many, age can dictate how they engage in effective group therapy treatment. Being surrounded by peers of similar age or who are overcoming similar challenges is crucial for creating an atmosphere of camaraderie, with groups of similarly-aged individuals necessary to break down unnecessary barriers. 

Others may develop their treatment plans and goals in other ways. While younger adults may benefit from physically expressive outlets, such as sports, others may benefit more from artistic-based approaches. Ensuring that treatment can address not only the stresses of each unique age group in overcoming addiction, but provides direct ways to address the needs of those in recovery, is important to create an effective treatment plan. 

Finding a dedicated treatment facility and asking about particular demographics or the therapeutic opportunities available is essential. However, it is still important to ensure that each individual is getting the best, most pertinent treatment possible. Working with treatment facilities to explore the options available, the average age of their community, and other demographics can all be important for finding the best place to begin a transformative recovery journey.

Addiction can affect anyone, regardless of age. However, your age can inform the best approach to effective recovery techniques and practices. We at Buena Vista Recovery are committed to helping you find the most effective and practical recovery therapies to fit your needs and goals. From detox and inpatient treatment to intensive outpatient care and ongoing support, we are able to personalize your recovery journey to best fit your unique age and address your unique journey with addiction and recovery. From proven therapeutic modalities to a comfortable and accepting atmosphere of peers and professionals, your time with us is focused on personal needs and comfort while overcoming addiction. To learn how we can help you, call (480) 741-9414 or fill out your insurance verification form today.