Failure to Launch and Addiction: Causes, Symptoms, and Solutions

failure-to-launch syndrome and addiction

Failure to Launch and Addiction: Causes, Symptoms, and Solutions

According to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics, drug use is highest among people between the ages of 18 to 25.[1] When you take a look at this age demographic, not only are 18 to 25-year-olds at the highest risk of developing addiction, but some suffer from a hindering condition known as failure-to-launch syndrome.

Failure to launch syndrome is not an official diagnosis, but a term that describes a young adult who is struggling with their transition to adulthood. People with failure-to-launch syndrome tend to have a hard time leaving home and supporting themselves without help from their family members.

Failure to launch syndrome is especially common among people suffering from substance use disorders because addiction can stunt your ability to care for yourself, making it extremely difficult to begin adulthood and become self-supporting. If you or a loved one suffer from failure-to-launch syndrome and addiction you should seek help from a dual diagnosis treatment center near you.

Symptoms of Failure to Launch Syndrome

Failure to launch syndrome most commonly affects people who were not successful in their academic endeavors and did not go to college. Many with this syndrome do not have formal education so they usually do not have stable jobs that allow them to provide for themselves.

It also affects people who struggle with mental health conditions, such as anxiety or depression, that cause them not to have the motivation required to transition into adulthood. People who are experiencing failure to launch may remain stagnant, continuing to live with their parents and rely on them for basic needs.

The symptoms of the failure-to-launch syndrome include:[2]

  • Dropping out of school or significant declines in academic performance
  • Returning to live at home after attempts to live independently are unsuccessful
  • Never obtaining employment that is sufficient for independent living
  • Contributing little financially and emotionally to family and loved ones
  • Being withdrawn or absent, isolating oneself from loved ones
  • Spending a considerable amount of time partying
  • Abusing substances
  • Lacking motivation, direction, or purpose
  • Lacking emotional expression or depth
  • Having a difficult time expressing emotions
  • Expressing no desire for independence or responsibilities
  • Symptoms of social anxiety
  • Being viewed as lazy by others

Oftentimes, parents of people with failure-to-launch syndrome tend to enable their children’s behaviors unintentionally. Parents want to help their children, so they end up completing responsibilities and tasks for them, preventing the young adult from learning how to do things on their own and continuing the cycle of failure to launch.

How is Failure to Launch Syndrome Connected to Addiction?

People suffering from addiction often display similar behaviors to those struggling with failure to launch. For example, both conditions cause young adults to avoid responsibility and rely on others to help them obtain basic needs. Failure to launch is also associated with an inability to properly express emotions, which is a huge motivation for substance abuse.

One of the symptoms of the failure-to-launch syndrome is frequent partying and substance abuse. While substance abuse can start as simple experimentation and attempts to have a good time, frequent drug use can quickly lead to the development of addiction. Unfortunately, if you have a failure to launch syndrome and addiction, the conditions can worsen the symptoms of one another.

Treating Addiction and Failure to Launch Syndrome

People who struggle with addiction and failure to launch can benefit from a dual-diagnosis treatment program. During dual-diagnosis treatment, patients will participate in integrated mental health and addiction treatment.

For addiction, treatment services will include the following:

  • Medical detox
  • Addiction education
  • Individual therapy
  • Group counseling
  • Relapse prevention planning
  • Aftercare support
  • Holistic therapies

Treatment for failure-to-launch syndrome usually involves the use of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT can help patients learn how to control negative thought patterns and challenge faulty assumptions about themselves, others, and the world around them. Patients might also participate in executive functioning coaching, which helps them learn how to make and achieve short or long-term goals.

Another important aspect of treatment is family therapy. Unhealthy family dynamics such as enabling or codependency must be addressed and put to an end in order for recovery to occur. Family behavior therapy can help the entire family unit adopt healthier coping skills and learn how to support one another.

When you receive treatment for addiction, some of the symptoms of the failure-to-launch syndrome will improve because the drugs and alcohol can prevent you from reaching your full potential. While you will experience improvements, you must continue to work in therapy and counseling to fully recover from both conditions.

Find Help for Addiction and Failure to Launch Syndrome Today

If your loved one is suffering from substance abuse and failure to launch syndrome, help is available. Watching your child struggle to achieve independence while suffering from addiction simultaneously can be extremely difficult, but dual-diagnosis treatment programs like Florida Recovery Group can provide your loved one with the tools and support they need to become successful.

Contact Florida Recovery Group for a confidential, risk-free assessment today.