Addiction and recovery can happen at any age, but people experience the world differently at different times in their life. Recovery may not look the same for each age group.
I got sober in my late 20’s and I’m now in my mid-30’s. For me, this has meant making a big life change during a period that is already full of growth and, often, lots of other big life changes. Much of the work I’ve done in therapy is intertwined with both my amount of time sober and my age.
Getting Sober Young
I got sober fairly young, but for people who enter recovery even younger (teens and early 20’s), there are unique challenges and benefits. People in that age range might be hesitant to make this change. They may think they are too young to have an addiction. Drinking and using drugs is often seen as a rite of passage, and young people might think getting sober would be giving up a social life.
This is, of course, not true. It seems that it’s becoming more common for younger people to get sober, so these attitudes may change. Getting sober at a young age also means that you get to figure out who you are without substances at a younger age. You get to be present for major life events, which means you might end up with less regrets.
Sobriety in Middle Age
For people who are middle aged when they get sober, there might have been more time in active addiction to experience regrets. It might be harder to make the initial change; besides potentially having more years of drinking or drug use behind you, at this age responsibilities are often more firmly set in place. This can make it difficult to take time off to attend addiction treatment.
However, the “mid-life crisis” often depicted negatively in popular culture might actually be a good thing when it comes to recovery. This can be a time for people to evaluate their life, and see that alcohol or drugs are not serving them. At middle age, people are still young enough to have energy and mental clarity, but also have enough life under their belts to gain perspective. This is a great combination for recovery.
Older Adults and Recovery
When it comes to older adults (ideas of what this entails range, but let’s say 65 and older), addiction is often dismissed. People might write off the effects of intoxication in older folks—such as falling or memory loss—as signs of aging. Older adults aren’t depicted as drinkers or drug users in popular media the same way young people are, but addiction is a growing problem among the older generations. People in this age range are often prescribed addictive medications; three in ten older adults use at least five prescriptions.
It can be hard to make a huge change like getting sober at this time in life. Older adults might be set in their ways, and their support system might not be around or close by. But recovery at this stage of life is possible and can be very rewarding. In this age range, people may be retired or have kids who are out of the house. This means more time and ability to focus on recovery. Recovery gives you mental clarity and strengthens your cognitive skills, making aging a better experience.
While recovery can look different at various times in your life, it is bound to be rewarding and life-changing at any age.
If you are struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder, there is help and hope. TruHealing Centers offers high-quality treatment for mental health disorders and addiction in facilities across the country. Our staff—many of whom are in recovery themselves—will help you build a great life in recovery, no matter your age. Call an admissions specialist at 833.631.0525.