Call us at (212) 712-8800
  1. Home
  2.  » 
  3. Treatment Models
  4.  » Developmental Model

Developmental Model 

At New York Center for Living, we view addiction as a developmental disorder. We do not impose adult models of treatment upon adolescents, nor do we treat our young professionals as teenagers. What that means to us is that each individual entering treatment is deserving of a plan of action that is appropriate to their age. We are highly specialized in treating adolescents and young adults.  More importantly, we view each of these distinct stages of life independently and our programs reflect these beliefs within our day-to-day treatment. 

The Developmental Model of addiction considers substance abuse as a developmental disorder. Traumatic early life experiences can cause physical changes in the brain which can interrupt development and maturity; this makes an individual more susceptible to suffering from addiction later in life.  We know that trauma and PTSD are risk factors for future substance use disorders.  Likewise, early developmental delays, learning issues and underlying fears can make it more likely to have future problems with addictive behaviors such as alcohol and drug use, excessive video gaming, gambling, sexual compulsivity, and other process addictions. 

We closely look at some of these underlying sources of early trauma that are derivative of genetic predisposition, intergenerational and family dynamics, psychological and psychiatric conditions, attachment disruptions, trauma, and PTSD. Blending the work of Erik Erikson psychosocial developmental stages with recovery principles, we seek to repair prior deficits in the areas of trust, autonomy, initiative, and industry to enhance the stages of identity formation and intimacy. Each week our programming reflects one of these goals. In other words, we use recovery as an opportunity to repair the developmental delays and “failure to launch” with the goal of achieving successful autonomy and interdependence upon family. 

For young adults we are guided by the theoretical formulations of Jeffry Arnett who referred to “emergent adulthood” as the stage of development encompassing 21-29.  According to Dr. Arnett, this is a time that can be marked by instability, ongoing identity exploration, self-focus, feeling “in-between” and optimism about the future. He believes that the delays in feeling “fully adult” result from the dependencies fostered by society in terms of the extended graduate education process, the sexual revolution, the and the technology revolution that prolong the maturation process.  This has most recently been heightened by the return to the nest during the COVID pandemic.  These contribute to creating obstacles toward independence.  When this is paired with substance abuse, the ability to become an independent functioning adult is hampered. 

Our Approach 

The New York Center for Living is focused on giving young adults and adolescents the tools which they need to have a successful and sustained recovery. We consider the developmental model when we deliver treatment, knowing that early intervention is the most effective harm reduction technique. 

Our model is based on: 

  • Prevention and Assessment 
  • Treatment 
  • Continuing Care 

Prevention and assessment are critical in our approach to dealing with substance abuse and mental health disorders. We aim to promote mental well-being through education and training that help adolescents and their families make informed choices. We work closely with several secondary and college programs to bring education, training and recovery skills to parents, professionals, educators and students. 

Recovery with the Developmental Model 

At NYCFL the recovery process can be thought of as a chance to continue with the developmental process that was disrupted due to mental health and substance use disorder. This means that our clients will learn to appreciate the value of delayed gratification and will learn coping strategies and tactics to deal with urges to use again. The brain’s ability to grow means that with psychotherapy, education, and recovery it is possible to develop newer and healthier ways to cope with the challenges that life offers. 

Families also are stunted in their own development.  For parents, the growing independence of their adolescent or young adult “children” can enable them to return to their own focus upon their respective maturational goals, i.e. anticipating return to “couple” status, retirement, vacations etc.  The ability to live independently is also stymied by an adolescent or young adult’s problematic drug use. Parents are fearful to leave home for too long and become trapped with resentment.   At NYCFL, our goal is to help all members of the family to be able to feel the satisfaction of pursuing their own life’s goals. 

Related Articles