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What is Failure to Launch?

Failure to Launch represents a position where an adolescent or young adult struggles when it comes to the transition into adulthood and independence. Areas of struggle for a young adult who “fails to launch” are reaching milestones that can include but are not limited to completing education, securing employment positions, stable living situations, and the ability to maintain financial stability. Failure to Launch can be most recognized where there is a prolonged dependency on parents or guardians when it comes to financial and emotional areas of life. To the extent that it is beyond the typical reliance for the age the individual is at.

Some areas to look out for that can be contributing factors to one’s failure to launch can include a lack of motivation or direction, mental health struggles, financial dependency, overprotective parents or guardians, fear of failure or rejection, lack of life skills, as well as other societal factors contributing to an individual’s failure to launch. Some individuals may not have clear goals or aspirations, or even minor goals for the matter. This lack of motivation to gain education or career opportunities is an indicator to an individual’s failure to launch. Other mental health conditions including depression, anxiety, which can lead to substance abuse can impair an individual’s ability to be independent and pursue goals. Economic factors play a big role where limited job opportunities and financial instability, can make it difficult for young adults to be independent financially and emotionally. On the flip side, an individual’s failure to launch can result from overprotective guardians where the feelings of the guardian overwhelm their child’s ability to pursue more independence. The fear of failure or rejection is a common feeling for adolescents and young adults, but for some this can completely halt an individual from taking risk to pursue opportunities in life that will help them be independent. These are all factors that can play a role in the lack of development of life skills such as time management, cooking, and financial maintenance, all leading to a lack of independence.

Failure to launch can be directly correlated with addiction in various ways including self-medication to cope with feelings, low self-esteem, and anxiety. Substance abuse allows individuals to escape life’s responsibilities in adulthood. In turn addiction can also be a reason for the failure to launch as substance use and abuse leads to the impairment of decision making and the ability to set and strive for goals in the future. Addiction can also play a role as it hinders the development of milestones and the achievement of goals such as success with education and job opportunities leading to a delay with progress in independence.

Looking at addiction and failure to launch as a pair, to treat both it requires to address the underlying issues and reasons for substance use, and the factors that have led to difficulty transitioning into adulthood. There are many factors that play a role in an individual’s failure to launch, and all aspects must be addressed for the most effective approach for an individual.

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