Time out

Time out

He was coming home from rehab, just in time for the holidays.  His mother was anxious.

How would he “fit in” with the rest of the family?  Could she trust him – even for a few days – to stay sober for the celebrations?

She kept calling him her adolescent.

The “boy” was 28, but he was a heavy drinker and pill-abuser.  He acted like the teenager he was when he started abusing drugs and alcohol.

When Jacob’s substance abuse overwhelmed him in high school, his maturity stopped, too.

Recently I asked a close friend – a psychiatrist who understands addiction – if maturity stops once addiction starts.

He offered several studies (with the caveat that AI helped in his search. *)

One such study from Indiana University found that adolescents who abused drugs or alcohol face huge difficulties maturing into adulthood.

The researchers were able to “identify solid links between adolescent substance abuse and adverse adult outcomes…Those who drink large volumes of alcohol or abuse drugs early in life generally experience problems with emotional maturity.”

The findings illustrated a “clear difference between emotional and physical age.  While physical age is predictable, emotional age is the polar opposite.  When teens begin to abuse drugs or alcohol, they can suffer from a case of arrested development.”

The good news is that recovery can restore a person to health – not just physically – but mentally and emotionally as well.

Watching my son – and many of his friends – grow into recovery I watch as their maturity grows, too.  Their families delight in their sons’ newfound view of the world, framed by an honesty that is as profound as it is sometimes stunning.

And time lost is found.




“The Influence of Substance Use on Adolescent Brain Development,” Casey, B. Jones, R. M. & Hare, Journal:  Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 9(11), 828-839 

“Act Your Age:  Does Adolescent Drug Use Stunt Emotional Intelligent?”  Direct link:  Act Your Age:  Does Adolescent Drug Use Stunt Emotional Intelligence (addictions. Com)