A Leader in Young Adult Mental Health Treatment

Young Adults and Alcohol: Treatment for Alcohol Abuse

The combination of young adults and alcohol can be a life-threatening mix. Attaining legal drinking age doesn’t automatically make it safe or healthy for young people to consume alcohol. And easier access to alcohol increases the potential for young adult alcoholism.  

Moreover, alcohol abuse is closely linked with co-occurring mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety, and trauma. Effective treatment needs to acknowledge and address that key understanding.  

Symptoms and Causes of Alcohol Abuse

How do I know if I’m abusing alcohol or becoming dependent on alcohol?

An alcohol abuse diagnosis isn’t based just on how often or how much you drink. It’s also about how your drinking affects your life and daily functioning, and whether or not you have the ability to control your alcohol use.   

The DSM-5, which classifies mental health disorders, lists a set of criteria to use when determining whether an individual has an Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD). According to the DSM-5, there are 11 criteria that mental health professionals should look at when diagnosing AUD. Individuals who meet any two of these 11 criteria within one year receive an AUD diagnosis. Depending on how many criteria are met, the Alcohol Use Disorder is categorized as mild, moderate, or severe.  

The criteria is based on whether, during the past year, you have experienced any of the following: 

  • Times when you ended up drinking more or for longer than you intended
  • Wanted to cut down or stop drinking, or tried to, more than once, but were unable to
  • Spent a lot of time drinking, or being sick or getting over other after-effects of drinking
  • Experienced a craving (strong need or urge) to drink
  • Found that drinking, or being sick after drinking, often interfered with taking care of your home or family; caused job troubles; or caused problems at school
  • Continued to drink even though it was causing trouble with family or friends
  • Stopped or reduced activities that you used to find important, interesting, or enjoyable, in order to drink
  • During or after drinking, found yourself more than once in situations that increased your chances of getting hurt, such as driving, swimming, using machinery, walking in a dangerous area, or having unsafe sex
  • Continued to drink even though it was making you feel depressed or anxious or adding to another health problem, or continued to drink after having had a memory blackout
  • Had to drink much more than in the past to get the effect you wanted, or realized that the usual number of drinks you consumed had much less effect than it used to
  • Suffered from withdrawal symptoms, such as trouble sleeping, shakiness, irritability, anxiety, depression, restlessness, nausea, or sweating, when the effects of alcohol were wearing off, or sensed things that were not there

Know the Facts

One out of every five college students meets the criteria for Alcohol Use Disorder.

Young Adults and Alcohol: Causes of Alcohol Abuse

There is no single cause of alcohol abuse. Rather, several factors typically contribute: 



Research shows that drinking addiction and Alcohol Use Disorder appear to run in families.

Environmental factors

Environmental factors

Life situations throughout childhood and during the teen years can contribute to the likelihood of alcohol abuse—particularly childhood trauma.

Alcohol and Mental Health

Alcohol and Mental Health

Mental health and alcohol addiction go hand in hand. Young adult alcoholism is almost always linked to underlying mental health issues, such as depression, trauma, anxiety, or another mood disorder.

Know the Facts

63% of individuals with a drinking addiction also suffer from depression.

Diagnosis and Treatment for Alcohol Abuse 

When it comes to young adults and alcohol, diagnosis depends in part on the DSM-5 criteria listed above. Moreover, a comprehensive assessment for alcohol abuse includes a physical exam to determine how alcohol use is impacting a young adult’s health.  

In addition, an assessment involves an in-depth interview with a mental health professional or other healthcare provider about your drinking habits, including how much and how often you consume alcohol. Furthermore, the discussion will cover your state of mind, mood swings, and other mental health indicators. 

Does binge drinking mean I’m an alcoholic? 

Binge drinking is a behavior commonly included in discussions about young adults and alcohol. Binge drinking is defined as a pattern of drinking that results in a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 grams percent or above. For young men, binge drinking consists of consuming five or more drinks within two hours. For young women, it is usually four or more drinks in that amount of time. 

Not all individuals who binge drink are alcohol dependent. However, those who regularly engage in binge drinking are at a higher risk of developing an Alcohol Use Disorder. Thus, they may need addiction help at some point in the future.  

Know the Facts

41% of 21-year-olds engage in binge drinking—and more young adults are binge-drinking into their mid- to late 20s than were a generation ago.

Request a Call 24/7

Request a Call 24/7

All calls are always confidential.

What does young adult alcohol abuse treatment include? 

Detoxification, with medical assistance, is the first step in alcohol abuse treatment. Once the body is no longer dependent on alcohol, the real work of recovery begins. Effective treatment for young adults and alcohol abuse includes the following elements:  

  • Individual therapy to process trauma and other underlying causes of depression and anxiety 
  • Behavioral therapy to help create new, healthier habits and patterns of thinking  
  • Support groups to reduce the sense of isolation that comes with alcohol addiction 
  • Family therapy to restore disruption in the family system, so parents can serve as a source of caring and compassion for young adults. 

Care at Newport Institute

Care at Newport Institute

Our Philosophy

At Newport Institute, addiction help for young adults is delivered through evidence-based treatment and compassionate care. Because of the connection between alcohol and mental health, we understand that treatment for alcohol abuse will be effective only if it uncovers root causes of young adult alcoholism.

Each client’s customized treatment plan at Newport Institute includes a variety of clinical therapeutic modalities, experiential therapies, and life skills training.

A quiet mind will be an effective mind. At Newport Institute we are teaching this state of calmness of the mind outside of conflict and then walking our patients through to be able to reach that state of mind even in conflict.

Dr. Michel Mennesson, MD

Clinical Modalities

  • Motivational Therapy to break through resistance to treatment
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to shift unhelpful thinking and build coping skills
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy to increase stress tolerance
  • Attachment-Based Family Therapy to create greater harmony in the family
  • Psycho-education to help young adults better understand how their brains work


  • Adventure Therapy to foster peer community
  • Yoga and meditation to increase mindful self-awareness
  • Music therapy for self-expression
  • Culinary arts to build self-care skills
  • Art therapy to support emotional processing

The Newport Institute team specializes in treating young adults and alcohol abuse. We understand the unique challenges facing young people, as well as the stressors that are specific to this time of life and this day and age. Our outcomes-based treatment for alcohol abuse is designed to help emerging adults step into the next stage of life with the tools and self-understanding they need to thrive. 

Marks of Quality Care

Our innovative approach to mental healthcare earns accolades from press around the world, but it is our dedication to our client success that has helped us achieve accreditation from The Joint Commission, exceed licensing standards of care, and nurture affiliations with the following:

Newport Institute

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