Alcoholism and addiction do not discriminate based on gender, race, creed – or age. You can be a full-blown addict or alcoholic no matter what age you are. The important thing is recognize how much you use, what happens when you use, what consequences you have (mental, physical, and emotional).
You are never too young to be an addict.
Here are just a few of the questions you can ask yourself to see if your drug and alcohol use are getting out of hand:
- Do your peers try to convince you that what you are doing is fine, and ‘normal?’
- Once you start using or drinking, can you stop and stay stopped?
- Have you missed an important event, appointment or function due to your using?
- Do you ever use more than you intended?
- Do you become more comfortable with yourself and social situations if you can drink or use first?
- Do you drink more than your friends or try to surround yourself with friends who drink the same or more so you don’t look as bad?
Looking at addiction consequences differently
Many young addicts will not have ‘losses’ in the same way that older addicts have. They may not have a mortgage, therefore cannot ‘lose’ their house, but they may have been kicked out of their house with a family member or roommate, thereby still losing their place to live.
Maybe a young addict does not lose their job, but they cannot finish school and therefore will not get their dream job. Many young people also have jobs that are conducive to drinking and using like the food service industry, bartending or construction.
For many young people who are addicts, you don’t so much as ‘lose’ things but find themselves unable to attain the things your peers are getting. This may not be as noticeable at a young age, but becomes more apparent as you get older.
Treatment for young people
It is important that you find a treatment center that caters to young people. You want this for a number of reasons: one, a treatment center that attracts younger people will have more of your peers for you to get sober with, and two, they will have experienced therapists and courses in the issues that are specific to young people.
For example, a younger adult may need more help understanding and building credit, finding meetings they can attend every day, learning how to go to school and choose a career and more. An older adult wants to learn how to balance recovery with family and work obligations that a younger adult may not have yet.
Programs for young people
Alcoholics Anonymous is just one of the recovery programs out there for young people. There are also a lot of young people in Cocaine Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and in Buddhist meditation groups like the Dharma Punx.
There are a ton of fun things to do in sobriety for young and old alike, but there are whole movements out there for young people to get and stay connected with one another. From groups on social media to huge conferences in amazing locations like Ireland and Hawaii, young people in recovery are connected around the world.
You can read even more information about young people and AA in this pamphlet: Young People and AA
Finding people like you in recovery
The first few meetings you go to may not have young people at them. Keep trying! You want to find good recovery, but you also want to find friends and fellowship. Maybe people you find aren’t your exact same age, but they are young at heart and that is just as good. Find friends to go to movies with, go golfing, get coffee with them – there is life after getting sober.
How to find YP meetings
To find young people meetings, most online listings use the term ‘YP’ to designate a meeting that is either specifically for young people or has a large young person population. In terms of these recovery programs, ‘Young People’ means someone with room to grow, or someone who considers themselves young at heart. There is no specific age designation or restriction to these meetings, but typically you will find people from the ages of 14-35 at these meetings.
This article and the People Section are sponsored by KLEAN Treatment Center. Its addiction treatment team specializes in all aspects of chemical dependency addiction as well as co-occurring disorders. They also offer a closely and professionally monitored detoxification, using cutting-edge treatment to make detoxification a relatively comfortable and painless experience.