top of page
  • Staff Writer

Benefits of SMART Recovery With Co-Occurring Disorders

Mental health and substance abuse commonly occur together in young adults. If a young adult is struggling with both mental health issues and addiction, they must be treated together. There are many aspects to treatment when these disorders are co-occurring. This includes support groups, like SMART Recovery, which help treat and maintain sobriety in young adults. Young adults struggling with mental health disorders and addiction can get help, and in doing so set themselves up for a future where they have the skills and support to thrive in adulthood.

The Connection Between Addiction and Mental Health

Addiction and mental health disorders commonly occur together in individuals of all ages. However, research shows that over 60% of teens and young adults with addiction also have a mental health disorder. This overlap is particularly true for individuals who have more severe mental health challenges.

There are many reasons why a young adult may struggle with both mental health and addiction. For example, when young adults have a mental health disorder like attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), depression, or bipolar disorder, they are faced with symptoms that disrupt their lives. To decrease these symptoms, many turn to drugs or alcohol as a way of self-medicating. However, while substances can dull their symptoms temporarily, addiction and mental health disorders commonly make each other worse.

As a result, young adults need to receive help and support that helps them heal from both. This often includes working with a therapist, getting medication for mental health disorders, and support. Support can come in many forms. This includes peer support, family support, and programs that help young adults learn the necessary skills to live life fully as an adult without substances.

What Is SMART Recovery?

SMART Recovery is a network of online and in-person support groups. It is based on the principles of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and motivational interviewing (MI). The SMART in SMART Recovery stands for Self-Management and Recovery Training. Therefore, when young adults attend a SMART Recovery session, they learn how to manage cravings, cope with thoughts and emotions, maintain motivation, and live a balanced life.

Similar to Alcoholics Anonymus (AA), SMART Recovery helps young adults connect with peers and share the challenges they are having in their lives. According to research, SMART Recovery is as effective as other peer groups, and, therefore, is helpful for young adults struggling with addiction. As an effective alternative that is not faith-based, SMART Recovery is an excellent option for young adults who do not connect well with programs that are faith-based like AA.

How SMART Recovery Helps Young Adults With Co-Occurring Disorders

Young adults face many challenges in their lives, especially those who are struggling with co-occurring addiction and mental health disorders. This is because the transition into adulthood is hard. When young adults go to college or move out of their parent's homes, they have to learn how to live on their own. However, when they are struggling with a mental health disorder, the loss of support can be extremely hard to cope with. SMART Recovery can help young adults who are struggling with mental health disorders and addiction in many ways.

First, while it is focused primarily on addiction recovery, its principles help young adults to build a balanced life. Living a balanced life is generally helpful for people. However, young adults with mental health disorders are more likely to struggle to find a good balance. Finding balance requires self-care that may include medication, ongoing therapy, and self-help practices. As a young adult who is recently becoming independent, these are very important skills to learn.

Also, as a peer support group led by volunteers, SMART Recovery uniquely offers support. It is filled with others who are also struggling with addiction, and, for many of them, with mental health. Young adults struggling with addiction and mental health are more likely to feel isolated and separate from many of their college or young adult peers. However, SMART Recovery can help them connect with others of all ages who have similar challenges. Therefore, it is a space where they are likely to feel supported and have a sense of belonging.

Additionally, when a young adult is transitioning into adulthood with a mental health disorder and challenges with addiction, their path will look different from many of their peers. However, SMART Recovery will give them access to individuals of all ages who have had similar struggles. By sharing their challenges and learning how others have learned to get through these struggles as adults, young adults have access to a network of people who can help.

Finally, for young adults, admitting they have mental health challenges or struggle with addiction can be embarrassing. SMART Recovery offers sessions that can be done both remotely and in person. This allows young adults to participate from anywhere in the world and in the privacy of their own homes, making it more likely that they will partake in sessions regularly.

Transitioning into adulthood is a difficult process. However, for young adults who struggle with mental health challenges and addiction, it can be even more difficult. At Northwest College Support, we understand that extra support can make a difference in successfully living independently. We offer programs that help young adults learn the life skills necessary to thrive as an adult. We offer SMART Recovery and other types of treatments for young adults who are experiencing mental health disorders and addiction. To learn more about our programs and what it looks like for young adults to get support while transitioning into adulthood, call (877) 485-2776 today to speak with a staff member.

18 views0 comments


bottom of page