Updated on May 31, 2023

No two individuals enter treatment for substance use disorder (SUD) with the same life circumstances or experiences. Likewise, everyone seeking recovery enters treatment at a different point in their life. Treatment centers that understand this often offer several different treatment programs for individuals separated by age.

Separating young adults and older adults during rehab can be beneficial for many reasons. Becoming familiar with these benefits can help individuals make more informed decisions when determining the best treatment program for themselves or a loved one.

Understanding Age-Specific Treatment Programming in Addiction Recovery

Throughout our lives, we experience varying physical, emotional, social and developmental needs. As we get older, these needs change and evolve. Typically, we like to surround ourselves with individuals who are experiencing similar life circumstances to ours. Likewise, it is normal to seek close relationships with others who are around our age as they can better relate to our current life stage. These factors only scratch the surface of why age-specific programming can be so valuable for addiction recovery.

Facilities that utilize age-specific programming for addiction treatment understand that every age group has unique needs when it comes to treatment and recovery. Grouping individuals by age can help individuals in treatment better relate to peers in their program who are also working to establish sobriety. Additionally, age-specific approaches take into account developmental needs and challenges unique to each age group.

The Benefits of Age-Specific Addiction Treatment

Age-specific programming can be beneficial for any age group. It is especially important for teens and young adults. This is because the late teenage years and young adulthood are instrumental for healthy development. Likewise, these years are often crucial for identity exploration and formation.

Here are some important benefits that young adults can gain when they are separated from older adults in addiction treatment:

#1 Enhanced Social Support

One of the most notable benefits of age-specific treatment is that it can enhance overall social support. Social support is a crucial element for successfully maintaining sobriety. Similarly, it plays a key role in facilitating treatment engagement.

When individuals are grouped by age, they are more likely to establish healthy connections with their peers in treatment. They may feel more empowered and more able to hold each other accountable for their recovery as they walk through treatment together.

#2 Facilitating Relatable Conversations and Programming

Another benefit of age-specific treatment is that it allows for more relatable programming for patients. Although every person enters treatment with different needs, grouping treatment by age can help consolidate similar needs, separate from another group of individuals with a different set of similar needs. This way, individuals better relate to conversations and interventions.

Group therapy is an important component of every treatment program. Likewise, the conversations had in group therapy can offer greater perspective and understanding between peers in the group.

For example, some common reasons why teenagers start using substances may be because:

  • They are curious about the effects
  • Substances are readily available in the home environment
  • Peer-pressure encourages use
  • They want to feel good

On the other hand, older adults may feel compelled to use substances mostly because:

  • They are attempting to self-medicate their distress
  • They believe they can moderate or control their use

Understanding the underlying reasons an individual may be motivated to use alcohol and other drugs is only one factor that must be addressed in treatment. Still, this example shows that each age group will engage in vastly different conversations about substance use and recovery.

#3 Treatment Tailored to Age-Specific Needs

Separating young adults from older adults in treatment can help facilities more closely tailor their treatment and services to each age group. As mentioned previously, each age group has different developmental needs to meet. When SUD plays a role in an individual’s life, it is likely that they experience a co-occurring mental health issue. As co-occurring disorders affect each age group differently, it is important to recognize this within the treatment setting.

For example, many young adults struggling with SUD may experience co-occurring issues like failure to launch. In response, it is not uncommon for young adult programs to teach patients important life skills throughout treatment.

Similarly, older adults with SUD may be more likely to experience issues within their marriage, career and parenting abilities. Age-specific treatment can help older adults work through these unique issues and feel supported by others who may be experiencing similar situations.

On the other hand, even individuals in different age groups with the same mental health disorder may need different interventions to effectively treat it. Younger generations are more open about things like depression and anxiety. Conversely, older generations tend to be more closed off to mental health issues and treatment. Therefore, conversations around mental health will look drastically different between these two groups.

Age-Specific Programming at PaRC

Prevention and Recovery Center (PaRC) has been helping teens, young adults and older adults overcome addiction since 1982. We value age-specific programming because we’ve seen first-hand how effective it can make the treatment and recovery process. Our three distinct programs are specific to age.

Prevention and Recovery Center (PaRC) is a drug and alcohol treatment facility that recognizes the benefits age-specific programming has on the treatment and recovery process. We offer three distinct treatment programs based on age. No matter the program, you can expect to feel connected and relate to the recovery experiences of other peers in your age group. To learn more, call PaRC today at (713) 939-7272.