12 Step Programs Help Teens Fight Addiction
Many people may be familiar with the organization Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). They may, however, be less familiar with the strategy which makes AA so successful in helping people live sober for a lifetime.
Known as the 12 Step program, the method was originally designed to address alcoholism. Since the beginning of AA, the 12 Step model has been adapted to help people looking to overcome a variety of addictions. New research shows that the highly successful strategy works equally well for teens and young adults seeking recovery.
Teens Benefiting Greatly From 12 Step Programs
Teens that complete treatment for drug or alcohol use benefit just as much as adults from post-rehab support programs that are based on 12 Step methodology according to a pair of recent studies. Up until now not much research had be done tracking teen and young adult involvement in these programs, but a couple of new investigations show that the programs provide younger participants with a support resource that is often otherwise lacking for them.
Teens and young adults who are working on sobriety often do not have a healthy network of sober friends. The 12 Step program provides a ready-made group of supporters to them.
A recent study lasted one year and followed 300 plus teens and young adults to record their involvement in 12 Step programs and compared that to their use outcomes. On the high end, the youth attended meetings three times per week at the beginning of the year. Attendance dropped to just over one time per week by the end of the year.
Link Between 12 Step Attendance/Sponsor Contact And Sobriety
Researchers found a direct link between attendance and sobriety. The more often the teen/young adult attended support group meetings, the longer they remained sober.
As encouraging as those results were, there was even better news for young people who verbally participated in the group meetings and who kept in contact with their sponsor. For those folks, there was an even stronger tendency to remain drug and alcohol free.
Attending meetings regularly helped to make positive lifestyle changes, but fully investing in the 12 Step program by participating at meetings and staying accountable to the 12 Step group sponsor made that change more secure.
A second study followed 127 teenagers for one year to see how attending a 12 Step meeting influenced their ability to maintain abstinence. In that study only about one-third of teens stayed faithful to the group sessions. However, for those who did, even attending just one meeting per week made a difference in their ability to avoid relapses.
One Harvard medical expert commenting on this study suggested that teens join a group even before they complete their regular rehab treatment. Joining early, he said, improves the likelihood that the teen will stay active with the group once he/she leaves formal rehab.
The bottom line is this: attending a 12 Step group is the best step toward living sober and the more actively involved a person is in that group, the more certain their recovery becomes.