Sojourners: A Program for Young Adults Finding Their Way in the World

#Adulting is hard. The COVID-19 pandemic made that more difficult, especially for young people. Young people thrive on and need connection with others. Many young adults lost that sense of connection and belonging in the last three years: they didn’t get a true high school and / or college experience.

Desert Star Addiction Recovery Center in Tucson, noticed a significant change in the young adult population (ages 18-25) in the first year of the pandemic in our community and throughout the state. Young adults presented with increased symptoms of depression and anxiety, reported feeling lonely and more isolated, and had a smaller circle of friends; some turned to using alcohol, drugs, or gaming to cope with their symptoms. Some reported they didn’t know how to apply for college or submit a job application, how to prepare a budget, how to show up for a job interview…they didn’t know how to #adult.

Because of the feedback we received from young adults and their parents, we developed a program specifically for young adults: The Sojourners Program. It is an eight-week mental health and substance use recovery, 12 Step-based intensive outpatient program. It includes both group and individual therapy, psychiatric evaluation and medication management, psychological assessment testing, and a monthly family workshop. It is designed for young people who are struggling to manage life and navigate life transitions.

The program covers a variety of topics, including setting and maintaining boundaries, the importance of self-care, managing life changes like graduating high school and attending college, moving out of their parent’s home, and maintaining connections with friends. It teaches life skills: balancing a budget, how to write a check, how to apply for and interview for a job, the importance of personal hygiene and a structured sleep schedule.

The Sojourners program is paired with our Oasis or Mental Health Matters programs to create a four to five day a week intensive outpatient program. The Oasis program is our alcohol and drug recovery program. The Mental Health Mental Health Matters program is our program for primary mental health (depression, anxiety, trauma) recovery. The blended program option allows Desert Star to create a program that fits the needs of each young adult that enrolls in treatment.

Since launching this program in July 2021, we have seen young adults thrive with the recovery tools they are given in groups. Many have returned to college, found jobs, and moved out on their own. One of the most important pieces of feedback we received is the young adults are enjoying the connection and engagement with others their age. They have a space to call their own, share and process their thoughts and feelings, and learn valuable life skills to successfully launch into adulthood.

If you are a young adult, or know a young adult, who needs some extra support during this challenging time, Desert Star is here to help! We offer a free consultation and insurance benefit check. We can structure a program that is the best fit for the needs of each client. Visit our website at or call 520-638-6000 for more information.