During the teenage years, young people are highly sensitive to the opinions and attitudes of their peers. Peer pressure is one of the strongest influences that drive teens to abuse drugs and alcohol, but when it’s turned in a positive direction, this powerful force can also help young people stay sober.
According to Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention and Policy, research has shown that adolescents in recovery can maximize their chances of staying abstinent by associating only with other drug-free teens. Teen support groups offer a source of strength, support and hope for young people who are going through rehab or who have already graduated from an addiction treatment program.
Fellowship and Recovery
Drug rehab is only the beginning of what will become a lifelong journey of recovery for your teen. After leaving the secure, supervised environment of a rehab facility, you and your son will need to find resources in the community that will help him maintain his sobriety. Rehab programs for teens should provide referrals to meetings and groups in the community that will give your son a source of fellowship.
How does fellowship play a role in your teen’s recovery from addiction? Here’s what an adolescent can gain from participating in group meetings:
- Positive reinforcement from other teens who have chosen a drug-free life
- Guidance from adult counselors or therapists who have experience and training in teen addiction treatment
- Coping strategies that can help them respond to their substance abuse triggers in healthy, positive ways
- The opportunity to learn about responsibility through group service projects
- A chance to build confidence by leading meetings, organizing groups or acting as a sponsor to a new member
Addicts and alcoholics often make the mistake of believing they have to confront the hardships of life alone. In fact, people who are successful at rehab have learned the importance of relying on others for friendship and support. Fellowship groups for teens can teach your children this valuable lesson, so that they don’t fall into the trap of self-isolation and social withdrawal as they grow older.
Types of Support Groups
There are many types of support groups available to teenagers in recovery. Group meetings are a key component of drug rehabilitation at addiction treatment centers. Families are invited to participate in some sessions, while others are reserved for teens and one or more adult therapists. In these therapy-centered groups, teenagers can openly discuss the issues that concern their age group, such as:
- Peer pressure
- Academic performance
- Parental expectations
- Social triggers
- Sexuality and dating
- Facing the pressures of adulthood
Many drug rehabilitation programs are founded on the 12 steps, which serve as a guideline for worldwide recovery groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA). The AA General Service Conference emphasizes that you’re never too old or too young to have a problem with alcohol — by the same token, you’re never too young to benefit from a 12-step group. Twelve-step groups for teens are organized around the following principles:
- Addicts and alcoholics acknowledge that they are powerless over the disease of addiction.
- Addiction is a physical and spiritual disease that can be overcome by surrendering to a higher power of one’s own choosing.
- Participation in a 12-step group is free of charge, and membership is anonymous.
- Members acknowledge the mistakes they’ve made as a result of their addiction, and make amends to others with a sponsor’s help.
- Members express their gratitude and maintain their sobriety by helping fellow addicts.
Teen support groups provide a source of constructive social reinforcement for young people who have grown up in dangerous, destructive environments. These groups offer hope to teens who haven’t been able to form lasting relationships with others or to form a healthy self-image. Most importantly, they give teens the strength they need to continue to pursue sobriety — not an easy task in today’s society.
Locating a Support Group
Support groups for teenagers are available all over the world, including your own community. International groups like AA and NA hold meetings in public buildings, churches, community centers and private homes. Online meetings and telephone support are available for teens who can’t find a face-to-face meeting.
Drug rehab treatment programs offer support groups as part of their aftercare services. Teens who have graduated from rehab can continue to draw support from these groups after they’ve completed the program. At Muir Wood, we place a high priority on support groups for our teenage clients. The surrounding counties of Sonoma and Marin have strong fellowship programs for young people, and we encourage all of our clients to participate. To learn more about how support groups can benefit your teenage son, or to find out about our gender-specific rehab programs, call our central intake number today.