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Fighting Loneliness in Recovery for Young Adults

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Young children seem to fall into new friendships with ease. It can seem like every time kids are in a room together, new friendships are being made. As we start to get older, it can become more challenging to create those friendships. Without the starting point of a classroom or a shared game, how can we begin to connect? Leaving home for the first time, new responsibilities, and changing social dynamics can all be barriers to creating new friendships. And teens and young adults who are graduating from a residential treatment center may feel like they’re facing even more challenges. 

When many teens leave a residential treatment center, where they’ve had a built-in support network of peers and mentors, they struggle with feeling lonely and making new friends. They are uncertain about returning to their home environment and reconnecting with old friends, who they may have pushed away or needed distance from. Whether or not they engaged in destructive behaviors together, it can be hard to repair relationships they associate with their own unhealthy coping mechanisms, as they’ve grown as a person. Transitional living programs help young girls and assigned females at birth maintain healthy relationships and continue to make progress, despite triggers for depression and social isolation when they return to a “real world” setting. Fighting loneliness in recovery for young adults is essential for overcoming reservations and self-doubt. 

Building Healthy Relationships: Combating Loneliness in Young Adults

Loneliness is a surprisingly common experience, with an estimated 61% of adults reporting feelings of loneliness. Not only that but young adults are shown to be lonelier than older adults. Adults in the U.S. had three confidants in 1985 compared to just two in 2004, and more recent data show that one in five millennials have no friends at all. And a survey released in 2020 found that 71 percent of millennials and almost 79 percent of Gen Z respondents report feeling lonely, a significantly greater proportion than other generations. So understanding that today’s young adults are statistically lonelier than older generations, how can they find ways to reconnect?

For some young adults, a transitional living program may be the answer. This can be a transition from a residential treatment center, or even taking a break from college or work. The foundation of our Journey Home is helping teens strengthen their support network. We take a client-centered approach that empowers young adults to set personal goals and identify elements of healthy personal relationships. Girls and assigned females at birth develop strong relationships with other girls and assigned females at birth in the program through group therapy and healthy social activities.

While staff at residential treatment programs play a more direct role in the care of residents, house parents in transitional living programs act as guides and role models to support students. Girls and assigned females at birth meet with their guide at least every two weeks to review progress on goals in the five core areas. Guides offer support and direction to the girls and assigned female at birth on how to accomplish their goals, assist them in their studies, homework, and skill development.

Similarly, in a transitional living program, therapy becomes less structured. Residents will still have the support of their therapists and guides, but our young people are encouraged to play a more active role in collaborating with their therapists to create personal goals and ask for what they need. Residents at Journey Home participate in weekly therapy, alternating between family and individual sessions. During the week, they will also attend two group therapy sessions, led by the Journey Home therapist.

Community Living

One of the main benefits of a transitional living program is that our residents get the benefits of both worlds. Journey Home combines the warmth and comfort of a traditional home-like setting with continued therapeutic support. Residents live in a home setting on a quiet cul-de-sac with other teens who are also coming out of treatment programs. In a residential setting, girls and assigned females at birth practice open communication, giving feedback, showing respect, and setting boundaries with roommates to cultivate a positive group dynamic.

Transitional living programs help teens launch into independence by teaching them personal responsibility and other life skills that help them live in community, including:

Maintaining cleanliness of living space and property. This is an important life skill. Taking care of their physical space can make young adults feel more comfortable and confident in sharing their space with others. If their living space is in constant disarray, they may be too embarrassed to invite other people in. 

Learning how to budget. Being in charge of their finances for the first can be challenging for young adults. Many do not even know where to begin. Being able to responsibly manage their money gives them the freedom to budget for dinners out with friends or joining a class to meet new people, without the worry that they are going to be without money down the road. 

Practicing time management. It is challenging to develop a relationship with others if they are perceived as being flaky or unreliable. If they are constantly showing up late or backing out of engagements with friends, it could result in a stop in invitations. Young adults who are unable to manage their time may have difficulty following through with plans, which results in a loss of connection. 

Practicing self-care. Whether it’s through learning to cook nutritious meals or incorporating exercise into your healthy lifestyle, finding time for personal care can be challenging for young adults learning to see their own schedule and boundaries. Taking care of themselves boosts confidence and helps them feel good physically and mentally. 

Building job skills. For many adults, the people they spend the most time with outside of their family, are their co-workers. Young adults entering the job market for the first time should take into account how their skills will best serve them. Do they enjoy being a leader or would they rather be a part of a team? Understanding how your job skills can best serve them can help them find the right fit for their job. And when they are in a job that they are interested and invested in, chances are that they will be surrounded by co-workers who also have similar interests and passions. 

Healthy Social Activities

Many young adults are used to the majority of their social interactions being through social media or online. And while these can be tools to connect, it is important to participate in the real world as well. In a transitional living program, residents learn to build healthy relationships in an environment with peers who understand their struggles. They can practice social skills such as empathy and active listening, while also learning to put themselves out there and open up to new friendships. 

Residents at Journey Home are encouraged to pursue positive hobbies, develop talents and skills, and participate in fun, leisure activities. Many of these activities are planned and developed by the Journey Home girls and assigned females at birth and staff to do together. Girls and assigned females at birth are also encouraged to pursue some of these activities on their own. Having these experiences, the girls and assigned females at birth are given an opportunity to connect to peers who have similar interests, which is an easy way to begin to form friendships. Shared activities provide a foundation on which they can build strong relationships. 

Some of the regular group activities at the Journey Home include “Fun Food Friday”, snowsports in the winter, visiting museums, going to movies, exploring the local outdoors by hiking and biking, and many other local events and activities. Relating to one another through therapeutic activities is a great way to begin to communicate, but it is equally as important that our residents learn to create friendships outside of a therapeutic environment. This helps girls and assigned females at birth strengthen relationships outside of a group therapy setting based on shared values and interests, rather than struggles.

Journey Home Can Help

Journey Home is a small residential treatment program for girls and assigned females at birth 16 – 21 years old. This program offers a community-based treatment option for young girls and assigned females at birth, which helps teens combat the loneliness in recovery for young adults. It is specifically designed for residents who have successfully completed a therapeutic treatment program but may need more help in transitioning back home. Journey Home West focuses on healthy living, education, responsibilities, and social integration as key components of the program. 

Journey Home is the perfect fit for teens who are ready to build upon skills learned in therapeutic settings but recognize they still need guidance and support to further develop their success. Journey Home blends a traditional home setting with positive peer and staff relationships. At Journey Home we believe in the value of good health and healthy hobbies, two crucial aspects of successful adults. Young people leave this program feeling empowered, happy, and healthy. We can help your family today!

Contact us at (385) 399-1775.