Stuck in Transition: Addressing Failure to Launch in Young Adults

Discover how to foster independence when struggling with failure to launch young adults syndrome in this comprehensive article.  

What Is Failure to Launch in Young Adults?

If you’re searching for “failure to launch young adults,” it’s important to note that failure to launch syndrome is not an official disorder. It is a term often used to describe a situation in which a young adult struggles to transition into the responsibilities of their age.1

Young adults with this syndrome often continue to live at home and are either unemployed or underemployed. They are reliant on their parents or caregivers for financial and emotional support. They also often struggle with taking on typical adult responsibilities.
failure to launch young adults

What Causes Failure to Launch in Young Adults?

There are various reasons for failure to launch in young adults. Some common causes include struggling with the following:2
  • Decision-making
  • Developmental readiness
  • Time management
  • Problem-solving
  • Underlying mental health issues
  • Negative life events
Sometimes, excessive comfort provided by their families or the lack of motivation to change can also contribute to failure to launch in young adults.

Normal Struggle vs. Failure to Launch

Many young adults may experience temporary periods of difficulty when transitioning into adulthood. This is considered a normal part of the maturation process. 

But if these issues persist and interfere with their ability for independent functioning, it might be indicative of failure to launch syndrome.

The Impacts of Failure to Launch Syndrome for Young Adults

When researching “failure to launch young adults,” you should note the impacts this syndrome can have. This syndrome can impact young adults in several ways, including:

Emotional Impact

Young adults with failure to launch syndrome often struggle with feelings of:
  • Self-doubt
  • Low self-esteem
  • Inadequacy
They may feel left behind by their peers advancing in their adult lives.

Social Impact

These individuals may experience social isolation. As their friends and peers move into different stages of life, it can become more difficult to relate to them. This can lead to loneliness and further isolation.

Financial Impact

Often, these young adults are underemployed or unemployed. Thus, they might struggle with financial independence. This lack of financial security can cause stress and limit their choices and opportunities.

Educational and Career Development

Failure to launch in young adults can impede educational and career progression. Lack of motivation or anxiety can make it difficult for the individual to focus on studies or hold a job.

Family Relationships

This condition can strain family relationships. Parents or caregivers might feel frustrated or overwhelmed by the young adult’s dependence. This can lead to tension and conflict within the family.

Mental Health Issues

This situation can worsen existing or increase the likelihood of developing mental health issues, such as:
These impacts can be reduced with appropriate intervention and support. Choice House provides a coordinated approach involving the young adult and their family for effective treatment.

Does Failure to Launch Syndrome Contribute to Substance Use?

While failure to launch in young adults does not directly cause substance use, several factors can increase the risk. These include:

Coping With Symptoms

Some young adults may turn to drugs or alcohol as a way of coping with the issues associated with failure to launch, like:
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Feelings of inadequacy

Social Environment

A person’s social environment can influence substance use. Young adults who spend time with peers who use substances are more likely to do so themselves.3

Underlying Mental Health Issues

Many individuals with failure to launch syndrome struggle with underlying mental health issues. These conditions are often associated with an increased risk of substance use.

Lack of Structure or Purpose

A lack of structure or purpose can contribute to substance use. Substance use can fill time and provide a temporary escape from feelings of aimlessness or frustration caused by failure to launch.
Not all young adults with failure to launch syndrome will develop substance use issues. But, if substance use becomes a problem, let Choice House help you address these concerns.

failure to launch young adults treatment

Looking for failure to launch young adults treatment options? A variety of therapeutic interventions are available that address the unique challenges of failure to launch syndrome. They include:

Individual Therapy

Individual therapy aims to help young adults develop the skills, mindset, and motivation necessary to live independently. 

Here are some of the ways therapy can help:

  • Goal Setting: Therapists can assist in setting clear, attainable goals that provide motivation and a sense of purpose. 
  • Addressing Mental Health Concerns: If psychological issues like depression, anxiety, ADHD, or others are impeding the young adults’ progress, therapy can help manage these conditions. 
  • Improving Self-Esteem: Therapy can help individuals build self-confidence and belief in their ability to handle adult responsibilities.
  • Increasing Emotional Independence: Therapists can help young adults learn to navigate their emotions more independently, reducing their reliance on their parents or others for emotional support.
  • Conflict Resolution: Therapy can help young adults improve their communication skills, enabling them to more effectively express their needs and navigate conflicts in the family setting and other areas of their lives.
  • Developing Healthy Relationships: Therapists can provide guidance on building and maintaining healthy relationships, both personally and professionally.
  • Managing Fear and Anxiety: Therapists can help young adults understand and manage fears and anxieties about independence, change, and adult responsibilities.

Group Therapy

The supportive social environment fostered in group therapy can greatly benefit young adults with failure to launch syndrome. 

Here are examples of how group therapy can help:

  • Peer Support and Understanding: In a group therapy setting, individuals can interact with others experiencing similar challenges. This shared understanding can reduce feelings of isolation and provide a comforting sense of belonging.
  • Learning From Others: Group therapy provides a platform for members to learn from each other’s experiences and coping strategies. 
  • Developing Social Skills: Group therapy helps develop and practice social skills in a safe and supportive environment.
  • Motivation: Seeing others who are progressing or have successfully dealt with similar challenges can provide motivation and a concrete example of successful growth.

Family Therapy

Family therapy can be a highly effective tool in addressing failure to launch young adults syndrome for several reasons:

  • Exploring Family Dynamics: Family therapy can help identify and address family dynamics that may be contributing to the situation. 
  • Building Healthy Relationships: These sessions can provide a platform to build healthier, more functional relationships within the family. 
  • Teaching Parenting Skills: Therapists can help parents learn how to effectively support their young adults in achieving independence without enabling their dependence. 
  • Addressing Co-existing Issues: Family therapy can help address any co-existing issues within the family that might be indirectly influencing the young adult’s ability to become independent.
  • Creating a Supportive Environment: Families can learn strategies to encourage young adults without making them feel pressured or overwhelmed.
  • Facilitating Change: Therapists can guide families through the process of change, helping them navigate the challenges that arise as young adults move toward independence.

Life Skills Training

Life skills training can be extremely beneficial for young adults experiencing failure to launch syndrome, as it addresses some of the fundamental challenges they face in becoming self-sufficient. 

Life skills can be broadly categorized into four main areas:

  • Basic Care Skills: This includes cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, personal hygiene, and other skills needed for independent living. 
  • Financial Management: This involves understanding how to budget, manage money, pay bills, save, and handle financial challenges. 
  • Time Management and Organization: This includes learning how to prioritize tasks, manage a calendar, set realistic goals, and meet deadlines.
  • Problem-Solving and Decision-Making: This includes navigating the challenges of living independently, understanding the potential consequences of different decisions, and learning how to make choices that align with their values and goals.

Forms of Life Skills Training

Life skills training can be delivered in various formats, including:
  • One-on-one coaching
  • Group workshops
  • Online courses

Career Counseling

Choosing and following a career path and finding jobs is a common challenge for those with this syndrome.
Career counseling can help individuals with the following:4
  • Explore their interests
  • Identify potential careers
  • Create a plan to achieve their career goals
  • Write resumes
  • Search for jobs
  • Develop successful interview skills

Educational Support

Young adults with failure to launch syndrome often struggle academically. Educational support, like academic advising, can assist with the following:
  • Finishing high school
  • Applying to college
  • Managing their coursework


Medication is often helpful for individuals with underlying mental health conditions. It can be used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan, not as a standalone solution.

Physical Activity

Regular exercise improves physical and mental health in a variety of ways, such as:5
  • Reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety
  • Relieving stress
  • Improving sleep quality
  • Boosting self-esteem
  • Regulating body weight
  • Increasing energy

These improvements can help individuals with failure to launch syndrome lead better lives.

Each person’s situation is different. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. The most effective treatment plan will depend on the specific challenges and needs of the person. 

Choice House provides guidance and support in creating and implementing an appropriate treatment plan.

What Role Do Families Play in Failure to Launch Young Adults treatment?

Families play a crucial role in supporting young adults with failure to launch syndrome. Here’s how they can help:

Provide Support and Encouragement

Families provide emotional support and encouragement. This helps young adults believe in their ability to succeed and transition to independent living.
They can encourage and support young adults’ engagement in therapy. This includes taking them to sessions and participating in family therapy. Families can also work with a therapist to learn strategies for avoiding enabling behaviors.

Set Healthy Boundaries

It’s important for families to strike a balance between providing support and promoting independence. This might include setting boundaries and expectations around employment or financial contributions.

Teach Essential Life Skills

Families can help teach essential life skills, such as:
  • Cooking
  • Cleaning
  • Managing finances
  • Healthy work ethic
  • Interpersonal skills

Find Key Resources

Families can assist in finding resources like:

Offer Patience and Understanding

Families can show patience and understanding. They should acknowledge that transitioning to adulthood is a process that takes time, remembering that setbacks are often a part of this process.
By taking an active role, families can contribute to young adults’ success in overcoming failure to launch syndrome. It’s important to involve professionals to guide the process. This helps ensure the balance between support and fostering independence is maintained.

How to Manage Societal Expectations and Pressures When Addressing Failure to Launch for Young Adults

Societal expectations and pressures can make it more challenging for young adults who want to overcome failure to launch syndrome. 

Both the individuals affected and their families may feel judged or stigmatized due to the perceived failure to meet these expectations.

Managing Pressures

Here are some ways to manage these pressures:
  • Normalize and understand that transitioning to adulthood can be challenging and is different for everyone.
  • Emphasize that everyone has their own pace for reaching milestones. It’s okay if someone’s timeline is different from societal norms. It’s more important for the young adult to become self-sufficient in a way that is healthy for them.
  • Encourage young adults to focus on their strengths and interests, not what society claims they should be doing.
  • Educate young adults and the community about failure to launch syndrome to help reduce stigma and increase understanding. 
  • Seek help from therapists or counselors who can provide support and strategies for managing societal pressures. 
  • Encourage young adults to focus on self-care and mental health. This might involve activities like exercise or spending time on hobbies.
  • Build a strong support network to help mitigate societal pressures. This could involve connecting with others who are facing similar challenges.
Young adults with failure to launch syndrome can progress toward independence by reframing societal expectations and focusing on their needs.
alcohol interventionist

failure to launch young adults treatment at choice house

Continuing to search for “failure to launch young adults?” Look no further than Choice House. 

Located in Boulder, Colorado, Choice House provides a structured environment to help young men between eighteen and thirty-five struggling with failure to launch syndrome.

Through our programs, individuals receive therapeutic support, practical life skills training, and a sense of community.

What to Expect at Choice House

Our goal is to help build self-esteem and self-reliance. Choice House helps young adults navigate their unique path to adulthood at their own pace by focusing on the following:

Contact Us Today

The nurturing environment at Choice House emphasizes resilience and growth. We stand as a supportive partner for young adults and their families in overcoming the challenges of failure to launch syndrome.
Let us help promote a successful transition into independent adulthood. For more information on our programs, contact us today at 303.578.4978 or visit
Participants leave their usual environments and enter nature. In these settings, they must learn to work as part of a team and develop survival skills.1

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Don’t let addiction or co-occurring mental health conditions keep you from leading the happy, healthy, and empowered life you deserve. Contact Choice House today and embrace recovery.

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