acquiesce - March 17th, 2022

Am I Too Young for Rehab?

Identifying an alcohol or drug addiction can be difficult for young people between the ages of 18-25 due to the way in which binge drinking and frequent drug use is normalised, especially for those attending university. 

However, if you have started to become concerned about your own relationship and behaviours with certain substances, you may have an addiction.

In this guide, we’re going to be explaining how you can help to identify an addiction in a young person and whether rehabilitation is available.

Am I Old Enough to Have an Addiction?

When picturing somebody with an addiction, you may have a specific image in mind of someone much older who may be struggling to keep their job and relationships or potentially homeless and living on the streets. 

However, it’s important to know that addiction can affect just about anyone, regardless of age, gender or financial situation and that there are thousands of individuals out there managing to maintain jobs, relationships and education whilst secretly struggling with an addiction.

These are called high functioning addictions

So to answer the question: yes, it is entirely possible for someone under the age of 21 to develop an addiction.

In fact, in 2019, there we 14,291 young people (under 16s) in contact with alcohol and drug services between April 2019 and March 2020

How to Identify an Addiction in a Young Person

Spotting a drug or alcohol addiction in a young person can be tricky as frequent binge drinking and drug use (particularly at the weekends) is becoming heavily normalised in today’s younger generations.

This makes it hard to differentiate between addictive behaviour and a regular activity that everyone else seems to be doing.

The key difference between the two is the individual’s relationship with the substance or activity. 

If they start to find that they cannot function (mentally or physically) without drinking or using drugs, this may be a sign of an addiction.

Other signs and symptoms of and addiction include:

(Not all of these signs of addiction will appear in one person, however if you are struggling with some of these then it is a good indicator that you do need to seek professional help.)

1. Being Secretive and Evasive

If you find yourself trying to hide behaviour related to drinking or drug use from those around you, it is often a warning sign that something isn’t right. 

People rarely feel the need to hide healthy behaviours, so if you are doing something secretly or being evasive when questioned about it, you may have an unhealthy relationship with the substance.

2. Become Withdrawn or Isolated

It is not uncommon for those experiencing an addiction to start withdrawing themselves from their families and friends in order to hide their behaviours surrounding drugs or alcohol.

If you find that you feel isolated and no longer attend important social events or activities you once enjoyed, this may be a sign of a substance abuse disorder or other type of addiction.

3. Experiencing Financial Issues

The cost of maintaining an addiction is expensive and is often prioritised over everything else. 

It is common for those who struggle with addiction to also experience financial problems as they suddenly find themselves struggling to manage the responsibility of bills and other financial obligations.  

If you find that the majority of your funds are going directly to alcohol, drugs or gambling as opposed to other responsibilities, this is a strong sign of addiction.

This can then lead to behaviour such as stealing money from loved ones or getting yourself into debt from borrowing money to fuel the addiction.

Spotting the early signs of addiction can reduce the financial burden on your loved ones, as they often end up suffering financially as a result of an individual’s addiction.

4. Mood Swings

Mood swings can often be a manifestation of addiction. However, it is important to take into consideration what may or may not be normal for the individual. 

A person who is usually calm and considerate may suddenly become excitable and out of control. Whereas someone who is pleasant and upbeat can become distant and depressed.

If the mood swings are rapid, unexplained and accompanied by some of the signs mentioned, the chances are that you might be dealing with substance abuse or even addiction.

(Please note that mood swings are also a common symptom of many mental health disorders which should also be taken into consideration.)

5. Changes in Physical Appearance

Continued drug or alcohol use can have a devastating impact on your body.

Some of the signs that point towards changes in your health or that of a family member who may be trapped in the early stages of addiction include:

  • Sudden weight loss
  • Bloodshot and glassy eyes
  • Physical withdrawal symptoms like, sweats, tremors, vomiting & seizures
  • Dry mouth
  • Excessive sniffing and runny nose
  • Unkempt appearance, hair, skin, teeth, clothing
  • Tiredness and lethargy
  • Constant illness
  • Unexplained injuries
  • Changes in speech, slurring or rapid rambling

It is important to keep in mind that these are also common symptoms of mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.

6. Relationship Issues

When a person is struggling with addiction it can cause them to lose focus on the things that once mattered. The need for drugs or alcohol can often take priority over everything, including love. 

Relationships are often one of the biggest casualties of addiction.

Are you spending less and less time with your partner or loved ones?

Is your substance use causing strains in your relationships?

Do you have a new circle of friends who you refuse to talk about?

Are you spending more and more time with people that support your substance use?

If you find yourself answering yes to any of the questions above, you may have an addiction. 

7. Problems at School or Work

Other signs of addiction include poor performance at school or work, showing up late, or even failing to show up at all. 

If you find yourself no longer interested in your education or work, or if you’re prioritising substance abuse over things that are important to you, you likely have an addiction.

8. Cravings and Withdrawals

Cravings and urges play a huge part in addiction and can be totally consuming. Individuals that have frequent cravings or urges for alcohol, drugs or gambling have grown accustomed to them. 

If the individual then tries to go without the activity or substance they are craving, they may find themselves experiencing withdrawals.

Withdrawals are common with substance abuse. Withdrawals may take the form of sweating, shaking, seizures, anxiety, depression, sleep deprivation, general aches and pains and so on. 

In some situations, withdrawal symptoms can be very dangerous and unpleasant. It is therefore important to seek professional help rather than trying to quit alone.

9. Tolerance

Tolerance also plays an important role in addiction.

If you are finding that your body has become accustomed to your substance use as a result of repeated use and you are now having to use more to achieve the same effects as before then you have most likely developed a tolerance to your substance.

Ignoring signs of increased tolerances can often turn to dependency and put you at risk of overdosing.  

10. A Loss of Interest in Things You Once Enjoyed

As an addiction progresses, individuals who are normally active and involved in a number of activities and hobbies may stop partaking in them.

Substance misuse often consumes a large part of an individual’s life leaving little time to continue with once cherished interests and hobbies.

If you find that you no longer want to spend time doing the things you once loved, then addiction may be the cause.

11. Unsuccessful Attempts at Stopping

Addiction is often characterised by a vicious cycle of sobriety and relapse. 

If you lack motivation and have undergone numerous unsuccessful attempts to stop or control your substance use, then this could be an indicator that you may be struggling with an addiction.

People often believe they are strong willed and can successfully stop when the truth is that willpower alone is not enough to beat the disease of addiction. 

The most effective way to beat addiction is to find the right treatment programme for your needs.

Am I Old Enough to Go to Rehab?

At Acquiesce, we welcome individuals who are aged 18+, however, if you are younger and struggling with an addiction, there is help available out there for you.

There are special clinics that are geared towards helping young people recover from addiction. The programs within these centres are often very similar to those tailored towards adults as the principles of addiction remain the same. 

In order to beat the addiction it’s crucial that the trigger is identified and treated. Without this, an individual will likely relapse for the same reason over and over again. 

For treatment under the NHS for under 18s living in the Bolton area, Bolton 360° Young People’s Substance Misuse Service provides help and support to young people and their families. They can give you time to talk about what’s going on in your lives and how alcohol or drugs are affecting you.

Rehab for Over 18s

At Acquiesce, we offer private, residential rehabilitation to those aged 18 or over at our treatment centre in Bolton. Following the detox stage, our private, luxury accommodation offers an urban recovery model that involves you integrating with the community during your recovery. 

If you are aged 18 or older and are concerned about your relationship with drugs, alcohol or gambling, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our team at Acquiesce for a free and confidential consultation.

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