In our society, people often turn a blind eye to drug and alcohol use at a young age. Therefore, it can be difficult for young people to determine whether they have a substance abuse disorder. Are they just experimenting, or do they need help getting sober?
You might feel as though you’re simply partying a little too much. You convince yourself that you don’t need treatment to get sober because you’ll grow out of this stage. You may even worry that sobriety will derail your social life. But getting sober young has plenty of benefits that allow you to live a long, fulfilling life.
1. You’ll Get to Take Advantage of Your Youth
When you’re young, your body is primed for optimal health. You have lots of energy. Your skin is firm and elastic. You sleep well, and your back doesn’t ache. At least, that’s how life is for many young people.
But abusing drugs can rob you of that youth. Using drugs and alcohol affects your appearance and physical health. Your skin may be dull or broken out. You may feel fatigued all the time.
As you age, your skin and hair will naturally lose their luster. You’ll likely experience some problems with your dental health. Don’t miss out on the benefits of being young and feeling your best.
Getting sober at a young age allows you to make the most of your youth while you still have it. It also promotes healing. You’ll do much less damage to your body if you get sober while you’re young rather than continuing to abuse drugs and alcohol well into adulthood.
2. You’ll Develop Better Friendships
It’s tough to make meaningful connections with other people when you’re using. Many friendships are based on drugs and alcohol. If you’re focused on keeping up with your addiction, you may not have the time or energy to contribute to solid friendships. In addition, you may find that you don’t have people to turn to when you truly need help.
But it’s important to have strong friendships at a young age. These connections give you a sense of belonging and allow you to experience love from people outside of your family. Having close friends at a young age can also reduce your risk of developing anxiety and depression when you’re older.
Getting sober provides you with a chance to create meaningful bonds with people. You’ll develop connections that are based on consequential experiences instead of the fleeting sensations of being high. If you go through treatment to get sober, you’ll likely meet a community of like-minded individuals who will become your friends for life.
3. You’ll Learn Lifelong Coping Skills
Many adults don’t know how to cope with stressors in a healthy manner. Even if they don’t respond to trauma and distressing emotions by using drugs, they may use harmful coping mechanisms. Most people don’t get a chance to learn coping skills that will help them thrive in life. This is one reason that mental health issues are so common.
But getting sober young exposes you to a wide range of mental health treatments and support methodologies. You’ll learn valuable skills to help you get through the hard parts of life without hurting yourself or others. Plus, you’ll have a lifetime to practice these techniques.
4. You’ll Give Your Brain a Chance to Develop Properly
The average person’s brain doesn’t mature fully until around age 25. In fact, at age 18, your prefrontal cortex is only about halfway through its development. This is the region that governs impulse control, rational thought, good judgment and the understanding of consequences. This is one of the reasons that people may begin to use drugs and alcohol at a young age.
But those chemicals can impede the natural development of the brain. Drugs and alcohol affect the way that you feel pleasure, make decisions and process emotions. Getting sober early reduces the negative impact of substances and allows your brain to continue to mature.
Furthermore, your brain continues to adapt and re-wire itself after age 25. This process is called neuroplasticity. Getting sober while you’re young reduces neuronal damage and gives you a better chance of developing an adaptable brain as you age.
5. You May Reduce Your Risk of Developing a Criminal Record
Unfortunately, young people who drink alcohol or use drugs excessively are more likely to make risky decisions that get them into trouble with the law. Having an arrest on your record at an early age can make the rest of your life difficult. You may have trouble landing a job. You may not pass background checks that are necessary to lease a home.
If you get sober now, you may avoid participating in activities that could get you arrested. You won’t have to worry about getting caught drinking while underage or carrying illegal drugs. Your judgment will improve, and you’ll be more likely to make decisions that have positive consequences.
6. You’ll Make Memories
Childhood memories are important. People who can recall and process everyday memories from their childhood may have stronger interpersonal and decision-making skills as they age.
But drug and alcohol use impair your ability to remember things from the past and form new memories. In some cases, that can be a good thing. Perhaps you don’t want to remember some of the negative experiences that you’ve had in the past.
Getting sober allows you to take control of your life and make new, positive memories. Recalling the good parts of life can help you make it through difficult times and find hope when you’re struggling. This might not be possible if you don’t focus on your sobriety.
7. You’ll Enjoy Life More
Sobriety isn’t a magic button that will automatically bring you pleasure. In fact, getting sober comes with many ups and downs and can feel downright impossible at times. But many young people have recovered successfully and found peace and joy in their sobriety.
Drugs and alcohol wreak havoc on the pleasure centers of the brain. When you use substances regularly, you train your body to stop producing its own mood-enhancing chemicals. Eventually, even the drugs stop making you feel good.
Getting sober allows your body to rebalance itself. Over time, your central nervous system will bounce back to its natural state—one that processes the full range of human emotions, including happiness. You will no longer need drugs to access enjoyment. Finding sobriety while you’re young allows you to make the most of the long life that lies ahead of you.
It may feel extremely challenging to become sober while you’re young. You’re already going through a lot of changes, and sobriety feels like another transition. While life can still present you with hard times, it is easier to manage when you’re sober.
Getting help before your substance abuse becomes worse provides you with resources that will make you stronger, more aware and better able to handle anything that comes your way. You may still have painful times, but you’ll learn how to feel your feelings and move them along instead of suppressing them with substances.