Emerging Adulthood : A Literature Review

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Understanding Substance Use in Emerging Adulthood: A Literature Review Emerging adulthood is defined as a development stage of life, starting approximately at age 18, or the end of high school, and spanning until 25, when adult roles are “officially” adopted (White et al., 2006). Emerging adulthood is a relatively new stage of development, which was developed by Jeffrey Arnett in 2000. Arnett explained that there are “gap years” where youths begin to identify new roles in life, which separate them from family, in order to create their own families. Furthermore, emerging adulthood was proposed to emphasize the transition between adolescent and adulthood because the transition is long enough to be considered a stage of development (Arnett, 2007). According to Arnett (2005) there are five main features of emerging adulthood: (1) Identity exploration, which is defined as the process in which individuals re-identify themselves as adults. For this to occur, individuals must gradually remove themselves from adolescent roles, family dependence, and previous social dynamics, and explore these aspects in the adult world. (2) Instability, in which emerging adulthood is considered to be the most “crucial” transition in life, resulting individuals to be the most vulnerable. This vulnerability is due to the suspension of friend and family support. Due to this suspension, individuals have a strong desire to attach themselves to new support that they perceive as foundational
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