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Emerging Adults – Time of Stress, Change, and Possibly Addiction

chicago rehab stress emerging adultThe period after high school through the late 20s is now considered a unique developmental phase, Emerging Adulthood.  For Emerging Adults life is typically filled with an unprecedented amount of change and a time for asking many deeply-personal life questions. Robin Marantz Henig discusses some of these changes in her New York Times Magazine article. Emerging Adults frequently change residences (slightly more than 30% move every year); change jobs (averaging seven jobs during their 20s); move back with parents (more than 40% move back in with their parents at least once during their 20s); and often spend time living with a romantic partner (66%).  These changes can lead to high levels of stress and anxiety.

This is also a time when major life questions are asked:  Who am I?  What do I want to do with my life?  What is most important to me?  Who do I want to have in my life?  In my earlier article, I noted the changes within an Emerging Adult’s brain can lead to the exploration of these issues in a new way.


The many major life changes and decisions make this an unstable time for Emerging Adults. Although this can be an exhilarating time of great possibility and freedom, it can also be a time of high stress.  The uncertainty and changes during these ages can lead to dread, frustration and a sense of not fitting in.

High rates of anxiety, depression, motor-vehicle accidents and alcohol use peak from the ages of 18 to 25 (rental car companies got that one right!), and tend to level off by age 28. (read more about Delayed Development) The rates of depression, anxiety and other mental-health issues are higher in the teens and 20s than in any other decade of life, except the 80s.   A recent survey by Clark University, which polled more than 1,000 young adults nationwide, found that 72% said this time of life was stressful and 33% said they were often depressed. Still, 89% believed they would eventually get what they want out of life.  So although a stressful time, it can also be filled with optimism.

Handling the Stress

Because of life changes and life-questioning, Emerging Adults are at risk for problems related to alcohol and drug use.  The increase in stress can lead to increased usage.  Unfortunately, because of the brain development during this time, high use of alcohol and drugs can have long-lasting effects on a person’s mental development.  With cognitive development stunted or hindered, an Emerging Adult will likely make poorer life choices and increase the likelihood of addiction during their life.

So it is important for an Emerging Adult to successfully navigate this time of stress, change and adjustment.

New Hope Recovery Center Emerging Adult Program

New Hope Recovery Center’s Emerging Adult Education Program is designed to provide Emerging Adults with the key life skills they need to navigate the changes and decision-making needed during this time in life.  It also provides alcohol and drug addiction education to aid Emerging Adults in making wise decisions and to understand the risks related to their own current and future drug and alcohol use.

Need Help?

If you or someone you know between the ages of 18 and 26 is experiencing difficulties or consequences in their life due to the use of drugs or alcohol, please contact New Hope Recovery Center today.

Written By: New Hope Recovery Center