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Substance use

Young Adult Alcohol Addiction Treatment

Alcohol use during this time of development can lead to serious impairments in the functions of the brain such as memory, coordination, and motor skills.

It can also cause a number of chronic health problems such as cancer, high blood pressure, liver disease, and heart disease.

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What percentage of young adults are alcoholics?

According to the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 8.1% of young adults ages 18 to 22 met the criteria for alcohol use disorder in the past year.

Alcohol use disorder (AUD), also referred to as alcoholism, is a medical condition that can be characterized by the inability to control or stop alcohol use, despite the effects it has on one’s physical, mental, social, and overall health.

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Signs of heavy alcohol use

Someone who is an alcoholic may show signs of heavy alcohol use. They may have changes in their behavior or appearance.

Common signs can include:

Bloodshot eyes
The smell of alcohol on their breath
Lying or keeping secrets
Lack of coordination
Lack of sleep or appearing tired
Anger or irritability Mood swings
Loss of interest in things they used to once love
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Sandstone Care provides age specific care for those who struggle with substance use, mental health, and co-occurring disorders. We have treatment centers throughout the United States.

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How does alcoholism affect young adults?

Alcoholism causes negative effects on a young person’s physical, mental, social, and overall health.

For one, the brain is still undergoing major development through a person’s mid-twenties.

Alcohol use during this time of development can lead to serious impairments in the functions of the brain such as memory, coordination, and motor skills.

It can also cause a number of chronic health problems such as cancer, high blood pressure, liver disease, and heart disease.

Alcoholism also puts young people more at risk of motor vehicle accidents, STDs, violence, and trouble with the law.

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What makes a person become an alcoholic?

An alcoholic refers to someone who is unable to control and voluntarily stop alcohol consumption.

Behaviors associated with alcoholism can include daily drinking and heavy alcohol use.

Individuals who drink in early adulthood and their teenage years are more likely to abuse alcohol and become alcoholics.

Some risk factors for young adult alcohol addiction can include:


Family history of substance use or addiction


Live in an environment where alcohol use is common


Experience high levels of stress


Have low self-esteem

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Heavy alcohol use can lead to a number of health concerns.

Young Adult Alcohol Rehab and Addiction Treatment are available for young people. Sandstone Care is here to support teens and young adults with mental health and substance use disorders.

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Is it normal for young adults to drink a lot?

It has become difficult for many young people to understand the negative effects of alcohol because alcohol use has become so normalized.

According to the CDC, binge drinking is most common among young adults ages 18 to 34.

In many social settings among young people, drinking is common and accepted, which can make it difficult for people who don’t want to drink or who are trying to stop.

Why do young adults use alcohol?

Young adults may use alcohol for a number of different reasons.

Sometimes young people drink to fit in. They may think that everyone’s doing it or feel peer pressured into drinking. It can be hard to understand the serious negative effects alcohol can have because it is so normalized in college environments and social settings.

Some young adults may also use alcohol as an unhealthy coping mechanism. Early adulthood can come along with a lot of stress whether it regards work, school, money, health, family, friends, or relationships.

According to the NIH, 30.6% of young adults ages 18 to 25 reported having a mental illness in 2020. Compared to other adult age groups, young adults had the highest prevalence.

Young people with a mental illness may turn to alcohol or drugs as a way to self-medicate, especially when they don’t receive treatment for mental illness.

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What happens if you drink too much alcohol as a young adult?

Drinking too much alcohol as a young adult can lead to serious negative health effects.

Excessive alcohol use can lead to problems such as:


Motor vehicle accidents


Harm to a developing fetus if a woman drinks while pregnant


Chronic diseases such as liver cirrhosis, pancreatitis, cancer, high blood pressure, and psychological disorders




Alcohol use disorders

How do I know if I’m an alcoholic?

Some questions you can ask that may indicate you could be an alcoholic can include:

  • Have you continued to drink despite health problems?
  • Have you lost interest in things you used to once love?
  • Do you have cravings for alcohol or an urge to drink?
  • Have you gotten in trouble with the law for something related to alcohol?
  • Have you experienced alcohol withdrawal symptoms?

If you think you may be an alcoholic, it is important to reach out for professional help and contact your personal health care provider.

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Developed by Chief Clinical Officer Sarah Fletcher LPC

Young Adult Specific Approach

Find your way to being you

Young adult treatment helps you make change.

Change isn’t static. Change happens when you – and only you – decide. As a young adult addiction treatment center, our job isn’t to make you change. It’s to empower you as you seek something different.

Our programs include various experiential programs such as yoga, art therapy, physical activities, and outdoor adventures to help young adults become their happiest, healthiest selves.

Learn more about our therapies

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Individual Therapy

Work one-on-one with an experienced young adult therapist to identify and address the underlying root causes of addiction.

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Group Therapy

Build resilience, test out your newly learned tools, and develop a community of support during your addiction treatment process.

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Evidence-Based Therapies

Learn more about the young adult evidence-based addiction therapies we use to create long-lasting change beyond the walls of our programming.

Medication-Assisted Treatment

Explore how our team uses MAT responsibly to address young adult addiction and in conjunction with our evidence-based therapies.

The Family Component
Family Therapy

Engage your family in your recovery process. Addiction doesn’t happen in isolation, and treating the whole system is more effective.

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Address substance use disorder and frequently co-occurring mental health needs like anxiety, depression, and trauma.

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Academic and Vocational Support

Develop workplace skills and vocational assets to help you find stability in school, work, and young adult environments.

What are the signs that a young adult needs alcohol addiction treatment?

Some common signs that a young adult may need alcohol addiction treatment are:

  • Need to drink more and more to get the same effects
  • Unable to limit drinking
  • Continuing to drink despite negative effects on their life
  • Wanting a drink so bad they can’t think of anything else
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How do you talk to a young adult about going to treatment?

Talking to a young adult about going to treatment for alcohol addiction can be a difficult and daunting thing to do.

You may not know what to say or how they are going to react.

It is important to express your concerns and how it has impacted you and the people around them. Being open and understanding can help show them that you care and that you are there to support them.

It could also help them feel more comfortable talking about what they may be going through, or even ask you for help in the future.

Avoid being judgmental, putting blame, or being aggressive when talking about getting help. Doing so may cause them to feel worse, become defensive, or feel angry towards you and not want to hear it.

It is also important to educate yourself and your loved one on the effects alcohol can have and different treatment options. By giving them choices, it may help them feel more open to trying different things and getting the help they need.

What are the signs of alcohol withdrawal in a young adult?

According to a study done by Alcohol Health and Research World, in severe cases, withdrawal symptoms can include Delerium Tremens (DTS), hallucinosis, and seizures.

Signs of alcohol withdrawal can include:






Agitation or irritability


Loss of appetite




Alcohol cravings






Nausea or vomiting

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Sandstone was a phenomenal experience for me!

“Everything from residential level of care, to PHP, to IOP, and the awesome Alumni group!! This is exactly what I needed to jumpstart my recovery.” 

Alec H.
Former patient
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Sandstone Care has been a fantastic community partner.

“Sandstone’s commitment to the community and quality mental health care shine through in every interaction.”

Steve D.
Forest Heights Lodge
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Wonderful staff from start to finish.

“Very professional and took the time to listen to our needs. Not just short term fixes, they are helping us with long term positive outcome.”

Cassie M.
Former patient
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The Continuum of Care

Care for wherever you are in your journey.

Access a full range of treatments for mental health and substance use disorders. Whether you need a safe transitional living community, inpatient care, or outpatient therapy, we have a program to help.

Learn more about levels of care

5-21 days of 24/7 on-site medical supervision.

Our Medically-Assisted Detox and Inpatient Center offers private rooms and 24/7 medically supervised care to support a safe recovery from drugs and alcohol, followed by comprehensive treatment that addresses your physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual needs.

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Detox Explained

2-6 Months

Our Transitional Living Program combines the structure of treatment and group living, with the freedom of living away from home.

This level of care is for young adults (18-30) who are not quite ready to heal from home. This level of care provides a safe and supportive living environment integrated with a PHP or IOP level of care. Here, you’ll learn life skills and healthy recovery strategies in an environment that’s set up for your success.

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Transitional Living Overview

4 weeks of on-site day treatment.

Our Young Adult Day Treatment Program, also known as Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP), is a highly structured level of care for young adults that offers five days of robust programming a week.

Our two distinct mental health and substance use tracks help young adults to stabilize, begin to understand their mental health and/or addiction struggles, and heal from them. We strive to help our clients become more like the person they want to be without using negative coping strategies or substances to get there.

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Day Treatment Explained

12 weeks of on-site or virtual treatment.

Our Young Adult IOP, or Intensive Outpatient Program, offers two distinct tracks to address young adult needs, each track consisting of 3-4 days of weekly programming.

In our mood disorder track, we are able to focus on mental health, depression, trauma, and anxiety. In our dual diagnosis track, we are able to support young adults with substance use and mental health challenges. Each focuses on developing positive social, academic, and vocational habits while continuing with their job or school responsibilities.

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Intensive Outpatient Program Explained
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Sandstone Care offers age-specific, individualized, and evidence-based treatment programs that help you regain control of your life and achieve lasting recovery.

How does alcohol treatment for a young adult differ from the treatment of an adult?

Age-specific alcohol treatment for young adults takes into account the unique circumstances young adults face and how they can affect alcohol use and addiction.

Alcohol treatment for young adults highlights the importance of family involvement as well as academic and vocational support.

How to stay sober in early sobriety

Treatment modalities

What is the most effective treatment for alcohol dependence in young adults?

There are several types of evidence-based treatments available for treating alcohol dependence in young adults. Treatment can include medication, behavioral therapies, or a combination of both. One of the most effective and common forms of alcohol treatment for young adults is psychotherapy or talk therapy.

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You have questions. We have answers.

Our goal is to provide the most helpful information. Please reach out to us if you have any additional questions. We are here to help in any way we can.

Some research suggests that young adults may outgrow heavy alcohol use.

Researchers explain that when some young adults begin to understand the responsibilities that come along with adulthood and the negative impact heavy alcohol use can have on their lives they decide to change their drinking habits.

However, for others, alcoholism can worsen over time if gone untreated and end up in serious negative outcomes. If you are struggling with alcoholism, it is important to reach out for help so that things don’t get worse.

The Minimum Legal Drinking Age (MLDA) is 21 in the United States.

According to the CDC, the age 21 MLDA saves lives and can improve health outcomes compared to those who drink earlier.

When states increased the legal drinking age to 21 there were fewer motor vehicle crashes reported and a decrease in drinking among young people ages 21 to 25.

Research also suggests that the age 21 MLDA helps with problems associated with drinking such as drug dependence or suicide.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines heavy drinking as consuming 4 drinks on any day or more than 14 drinks a week for men. For women, heavy drinking would be more than 3 drinks a day or more than 7 drinks a week.

Drinking every night doesn’t necessarily mean someone is an alcoholic, although it can lead to a number of negative health effects.

An alcoholic refers to someone who is unable to control or stop their alcohol use despite negative health effects.

However, certain patterns of drinking, like heavy drinking or binge drinking can put individuals at a higher risk of developing an alcohol use disorder.

According to the CDC, binge drinking is most common among young adults ages 18 to 34.

The NIAAA defines binge drinking as a pattern of alcohol use that brings the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to .08%. This typically is about 5 or more drinks for males and 4 or more drinks for females within 2 hours.

Binge drinking can be associated with many negative health outcomes, including things like:

  • Motor vehicle crashes
  • Alcohol poisoning
  • Violence
  • STDs
  • High blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, or liver disease
  • Cancer
  • Memory problems

Young adult alcohol addiction treatment can improve young people’s overall health and quality of life in the long run.

Alcohol addiction can cause a number of negative health outcomes both physically and mentally.

Alcohol abuse over time can worsen and lead to serious risks, including fatality.

The approach to young adult addiction treatment is different for each individual. Treatment plans are customized to fit a young adult’s specific needs.

Sober living homes may be suitable for young adults who are in early recovery and need a safe and supportive environment.

Some may find it more beneficial to go home after treatment.

Aversion therapy is designed for people with addictive behaviors, like an alcohol use disorder.

Aversion therapy is designed to help people give up a habit or behavior by associating it with something that’s unpleasant.

The unpleasant association could be something like a bad taste, foul smell, shock, or the snap of an elastic band on the wrist.

Alcohol dependence is typically associated with an increased tolerance for alcohol and experiencing withdrawal symptoms when trying to quit drinking.

Although someone may have an alcohol dependence without being addicted, addiction commonly follows shortly after.

Alcohol addiction refers to the inability to stop or control drinking, despite the negative effects on one’s health.

The two terms can be confusing to understand, as some people use them in the same context.

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Let’s take the next steps together

We understand taking the first step is difficult. There is no shame or guilt in asking for help or more information. We are here to support you in any way we can.

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