Life Skills Training Helps Addicted Young Adults With Failure to Launch
By Jennifer Maguire, MA, MS, LPC, ACS, CCS
Clinical Director and Executive Director, Promises New Jersey
Failure to launch – the phenomenon of young adults being unable to leave home and support themselves in adult life – continues to grow, alongside the epidemic of opioid addiction among young adults. This is the population we specialize in treating at Promises New Jersey.
The Special Needs of Addicted Young Adults
Most of our clients are 18 to 30 years old, andthe world should be their oyster, but pain and distress have led them into addiction. They’re battling a disease, so emotional growth is halted, physical health is in danger, and often their lives have been stopped short. They arrive here broken, with a wake of turmoil and problems blocking their paths, including:
- Strained or nonexistent family relationships
- Risky sexual behavior and increased risk for STDs
- Increased chance of contracting an infectious disease like Hepatitis C
- Driving while under the influence and auto accidents
- Social and academic difficulties at school or dropping out
- Failure to go to college or learn job skills
- Hazardous, reckless or illegal activities
- Serious risk of death by overdose
This population has special needs. Unlike people who are already established in families, hobbies and careers, most of these young adults have been too entrenched in their illness to get their lives started. They come to us in desperate need of clinical care but also the life skills that will prepare them to launch in the real world.
The Skills to Transition into Adulthood
It’s important for a young adult drug rehab program to provide the services and supports needed to help young people get unstuck and move forward with their lives. At Promises New Jersey, some of these include:
- Assessment of individual needs. We look at the individual needs of each client. These vary depending on their current plans and situation as well as their level of existing skills and abilities. Some of the questions we ask: Are you going back home? Do you need a place to live? Do you have a job or school waiting for you? We figure out what they are returning to, and also what they cannot go back to, in order to help map out a personalized plan.
- Ongoing recovery support. We offer different types of care, including partial hospitalization six days a week, intensive outpatient treatment three evenings a week and outpatient therapy one or two times a week, so that clients can “step down” to less intensive levels of care as they grow stronger in their recovery and reintegrate into their daily lives. This provides something crucial to their long-term success: More time. A 2001 UCLA study of youth found that those in treatment for 90 days or more had significantly lower relapse rates than those in 21-day programs. Other studies confirm that the longer we can keep someone active in their own recovery the better their chances of maintaining it long term.
- Constructive use of idle time. Addicted young adults who have failed to launch haven’t been able to think about the direction of their lives because they’ve been so sick. We look at how they spend time when they’re not in therapy and explore ways to keep them productive while staying engaged in recovery.
- Life skills development. Since the normal trajectory of growth has been interrupted by addiction, many young people in recovery need instruction on the basics. For example, we will teach how to budget money, as well as how to look for a job, go on interviews, and be responsible in the work environment.
- Sober social support. Many addicted young people have strained family ties and friendships, but we know that having social support is critical to their recovery. At Promises New Jersey, clients have a chance to develop healthy social contacts (and a sense of responsibility) via volunteer work and involvement in our alumni program.
With core skills and ongoing support, young people in recovery can transition into healthy, sober, productive adults.