Encouraging a teenager or adolescent to avoid drugs or alcohol often requires a strong support network and professional assistance. Since the causes of teenage substance abuse stem from multiple causes and the best treatment approach depends on their individual situation, identifying the right treatment plan takes time. Fortunately, the National Institute on Drug Abuse suggests that the objectives of 12-step treatments or similar programs complement each other and encourage participation so that teenagers get the help they need.
Teenagers and Substance Abuse
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, roughly 70 percent of high school seniors experiment with alcohol and almost 20 percent of teenagers use prescription medications for non-medical reasons. Engaging in substance abuse increases the risk of addiction and dependence, particularly when a teenager starts using the substance at a young age.
The reasons that teenagers abuse drugs or alcohol depend on their situation. Common factors include:
- Violence or abuse in the home
- Peer pressure or friends encouraging substance abuse
- Availability of drugs, particularly at home or in the community
- Mental health conditions
- Genetic factors, such as a greater genetic vulnerability when compared to the general population
In most cases, several factors contribute to substance abuse. The National Institute on Drug Abuse says that a teenager’s brain is not yet fully developed, so they do not have the impulse control that develops in adulthood. A 12-step treatment plan must recognize the unique challenges an adolescent faces before creating an effective program.
What is a 12-Step Treatment Program?
According to the National Institutes on Health, a 12-step treatment program is any support group or treatment program that uses the traditional 12-steps and applies it to the recovery process. Essentially, a 12-step program turns to a higher power, such as a religious figure, to gain strength and work on recovery goals. It suggests that the individual does not necessarily have the power or emotional strength to avoid the substance, so the program seeks help via support from others and support from a higher power.
In an adolescent treatment program, a 12-step approach allows the individual to recognize that other teenagers have similar problems or concerns that contribute to their substance abuse. It builds up a strong support network and allows the teenager to understand that he or she can reach recovery goals by working on addressing the causes.
Effectiveness and Objectives in Teen Treatment
The Case Western Reserve University says that adolescents benefit from addiction treatment, even if they do not yet have any signs of dependence or addiction to a substance. An effective treatment program for an adolescent strives to identify the problem before it develops into an addiction and manage inaccurate beliefs about drugs and alcohol. Furthermore, it addresses the underlying causes of substance abuse and works on avoiding dangerous behaviors like binge drinking.
A 12-step program complements other forms of treatment by providing a healthy support network. It also persists after initial treatment and helps motivate teenagers to continue avoiding substance abuse.
An effective treatment program for a teenager must address the young individual’s specific needs. By using a healthy support network and 12-step approaches, a treatment program helps teenagers recognize their problems and start addressing them in a healthy way.
- How do 12-Step or Similar Recovery Programs Fit into Drug Addiction Treatment?
- Principles of Adolescent Substance Use Disorder Treatment: A Research-Based Guide, The National Institute on Drug Abuse
- Treatment of Adolescents with Substance Use Disorders: Twelve-Step-Based Programs
- Principles of Adolescent Substance Use Disorder Treatment