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Challenges for Young People Seeking Recovery

Young people face unique challenges when dealing with addiction and seeking recovery support. In Virginia, young adults aged 18 to 25 tend to have higher substance use rates than most other age groups. 11% of our youth report needing but not receiving treatment. Where are the gaps?


Addiction at a Young Age


Earlier this month in Richmond Mag, Kerri Rhodes shared her family's heartbreaking story about her 20-year-old son's overdose in 2019. Kerri's son, Taylor, battled with substance use disorder starting in high school. Kerri detailed the lack of resources, both in Taylor's school system and in the mental health services the family sought, specifically meant for young people struggling with addiction.


In a message to other parents, Kerri explains, "This does not just happen to other people’s children. Addiction doesn’t discriminate. It is prevalent in every community. No one chooses addiction, and it’s not a moral failing or a lack of willpower. It is a medical disease."


Stigmatization of Addiction for Young People


At the start of this semester, a student newspaper in Texas covered the hidden prevalence of substance use and addiction in college students. In the media college students are often depicted as drinking or using other substances excessively during their time at school. In reality, behaviors like this can escalate and interfere with young people's education, relationships, and health. Students reported that because of the college atmosphere there is a stigma against acknowledging an addiction.


“There is absolutely a stigma in saying ‘I’m addicted to a substance.’ They may not know that there’s help available. They may not know that they have a problem. I think that’s a bigger issue,” Don Knox, adjunct professor of psychology, explained. “A lot of people don’t realize that they have a problem with alcohol. No one wants to admit that they can’t control their use of anything.”


Recovery Resources Need Updating


In a recent webinar, "Listening to Young People to Transform Mental Health", Mental Health America exposed overwhelming evidence that showed young people's mental health is dismissed in current approaches. Outdated systems are not viable resources for young people seeking help in the modern day.


Young People in Recovery (YPR), a nonprofit focused exclusively on providing recovery resources for people between the ages of 18 to 30, recognizes the need for young adult focused programs. SAARA has joined YPR in hosting a chapter for young people here in Virginia. Together we will focus on helping youth and young adults in our communities find supports and alternative peer groups to promote recovery.


Through bi-weekly all-recovery meetings, monthly pro-social events, and quarterly life skills workshops focusing on housing, education, and employment, chapter participants will find a recovery that was built for them. If you, or someone you know, is interested in getting involved with our upcoming young adult focused recovery program, please contact us.