Are All 12-Step Groups for Teens the Same?

A recent study on the efficacy of teen-specific 12-Step groups was conducted by John Kelly, PhD, an associate professor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and the director of the Addiction Recovery Management Service at Massachusetts General Hospital.  Participation in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) with only teen memberships was measured for effectiveness against participation in AAA and NA groups with recovering addicts of all ages.  The study revealed that teens who chose to take part in a program just for their age group had an increased abstinence rate over teens in a mixed age group.

Teen Development vs. Adult Development

Though it may seem like little difference exists between teens and adults, especially where addiction is concerned, the fact is that teenagers experience drug use differently on every level. Some of the factors affecting this difference include:

  • Lesser brain development
  • Hormonal fluctuations
  • Lesser emotional development
  • Less experience and thus a more limited scope of coping mechanisms with which to deal with issues related to drug use and abuse
  • Different focus and responsibility level in day-to-day life

The human mind does not fully develop until early adulthood, typically between the ages of 22 and 26, and use of illicit substances before reaching full maturation means that the chemical changes caused by drug use are more extreme than they are in adults. For this reason, treatment is far more effective if it can be tailored to meet the patient “where he lives” in terms of experience, maturity level, and future goals.

Teen 12-Step Groups: Facts and Stats

Teen 12-Step groups offer participants a wide range of support and guidance that they won’t get in an arena that is adult-focused. Benefits include:

  • True peer support
  • A feeling of acceptance and inclusion
  • Discussion that focuses on issues that are relevant to teens
  • The ability to be of service to others in the group

Additionally, the teen has a lower risk of being exposed to inappropriate adult-centered content, including:

  • Being exposed to stories and experience that are inappropriate
  • The potential for inappropriate relationships with an adult participant
  • Meeting people who may introduce him to possibilities that are even more harmful than the ones he has chosen in the past

Treatment Just for Teens

Here at Muir Wood, teen boys who are struggling with behavior issues and drug abuse can find their way to sobriety and learn how to make better choices in life through a range of teen-specific treatment options, including 12-Step groups for teens. Call now for more information.