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RECOVERY GROUPS FOR TEENS: AA AND OTHERS
There are a number of recovery support groups available for teens that specifically cater to the unique needs of teenagers. Most recovery support groups are free of charge, and available for the public to attend.
Meetings are made easily accessible as the information is published on various websites. There is an abundance of support groups available all over the country, with meetings held at different times in a variety of different locations.
Twelve-step options include groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA). Twelve-step programs generally function as peer support groups. While twelve-step programs are nondenominational, they do have a spiritual undertone. Each member works through the 12 Steps of recovery, which ultimately lead to an admission that they are powerless over drugs and/or alcohol and turning themselves over to a higher power. AA and NA meetings generally last between sixty to ninety minutes long.
NA and AA meetings that are specifically geared for teens will be made up of young people in all stages of recovery. Part of the twelve-step program is for a teenager to obtain a mentor, commonly referred to as a sponsor, to help with triggers and other life challenges and stressors that occur in the life of an adolescent. Twelve-step programs can be especially helpful for young people as they are made up of other young people and illuminate similar experiences. This can result in the development of a healthy support network for teens in recovery. It is highly common for teens to feel more comfortable communicating, processing, and working though challenges in life with the help of similarly aged peers by relying on the support of other young people who have been in comparable situations.
In addition to the various twelve-step options there are other types of recovery groups. One alternative that offers teen-based support groups is SMART Recovery (Self-Management and Recovery Training). SMART Recovery offers both face-to-face meetings as well as online meetings. There is an online message board that is specifically dedicated to supporting teens through recovery. SMART Recovery utilizes a four-point program. There is no spiritual aspect to SMART Recovery. Through the four-point program, adolescents learn to take charge of their own life, their personal recovery process and build intrinsic motivation to help foster positive life changes. The four-point program includes teaching teens tools to help learn how to control and manage their thoughts, emotions and behaviors, learn how to cope with cravings and urges, and learn how to live a full and balanced life. SMART Recovery meetings are facilitated by an advisor and typically last one hour.
While the very nature of support groups, for some, may feel uncomfortable, they can be incredibly helpful to a young person’s continued recovery. Participating in recovery groups that are made up of other teens can help to reduce some of the discomforts that a young participant may otherwise experience. Navigating adolescent specific challenges with the help of peers in similar situations can be encouraging and motivating. Support groups can create a forum for a healthy outlet to work through the unavoidable peer pressures that arise in a teenager’s life. They can also help a young person establish friendships with other teens that have likeminded goals and are also working on their own recovery. This can create an underlying sense of commitment and accountability with regards to a teen’s recovery process.
For Information and Support
Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know is in need of mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact an individual for the long term. The earlier you seek support, the sooner you and your loved ones can return to happy, healthy and fulfilling lives.