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Teens benefit from 12-step programs too

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The go-to addiction therapy for adults is often a 12-step program.

But until now, not much research has been done on how well teens benefit from these type of support groups. Findings recently published in the journal Alcohol and Drug Dependence show that outcomes are good for adolescents who engage in the 12-step process.

Going to meetings ups sobriety days

Researchers studied over 300 18 to 24-year-olds who were participating in residential-based 12-step programs for drug or alcohol addiction and who were also involved in other types of treatment. They goal was to find out how attendance rates at 12-step meetings one year after discharge from a rehab facility would correspond to continued sobriety or abstinence.

Overall, those teens who attended more meetings had a higher number of sober/abstinence days than those who attended fewer meetings. Another interesting outcome was that adolescents who actively participated more in meetings by speaking up seemed to have more days of abstinence than those who did not.

Finding support as a teen addict

Lead study author Valerie Slaymaker, Ph.D., of the Butler Center for Research at Hazelden in Center City, Minnesota notes that teens who are battling addiction problems often face an uphill battle when trying to find support and understanding among their peers--a factor that can lead to relapse. But 12-step support groups can offer the missing piece of the recovery puzzle.

“Because typical AA and NA groups are mostly comprised of middle-aged adults, we were pleased to find young adults can affiliate and fully engage in these support groups, and their engagement improves substance use outcomes over time," said Slaymaker.

Researchers also stress that this type of support is cost-effective, close to home and easily accessible for young people. However, the extent to which they will benefit from it depends largely on their willingness to actively and consistently participate by speaking in meetings and becoming a part of the community.

Source: Psych Central