Skeptical about what young addicts and alcoholics in teen recovery programs can get from group therapy sessions? You shouldn’t be. If done right, group therapy in teen recovery programs can be one of the most effective methods of young people achieving long term freedom from drug and alcohol abuse.
As we have mentioned many times in the past, alcoholism and addiction are an equal opportunity malady—it does not care if you are rich, poor, educated, from the city, rural, black, white, or any other number of factors, including age.
It is a common misnomer that young people do not (or cannot) stay clean and sober. We know for a fact that this is wrong. At our drug and alcohol treatment center, at least half of us have gotten sober before the age of thirty. Of those, some of our staff got clean and sober while they were teens, and some of those now have up to almost eleven years clean and sober.
Many of our staff, at one time or another, went through teen recovery programs of their own, whether those were effective out the gate or if that was a catalyst for getting on the path to recovery. In either event, it was the escape route to a better life.
Taking the path of a teen recovery program
When a person is young, though, that path does become a lot more difficult. Whether we like to admit it or not, at that age, we are still greatly influenced by our peers and our surroundings. Friends start to be more valued for their opinions than people within the family, which means that having a young, clean and sober support system is vital to staying off drugs and alcohol. If we do not have a proper support system—one that includes people our own ages—then the battle is even more uphill.
Yet, that is the same reason that teen recovery programs in a group therapy setting can be so effective. They use this same principal, but in a more positive manner. It all comes down to the ability to relate to an experience.
It is unrealistic to stick a teenager in with a bunch of people who have been drinking for 40 years into a small group to share their experiences and expect everything to somehow work out. How is a teen supposed to relate to losing a job to drinking if he or she has not even had a job yet in the first place? How is he or she supposed to relate to missing out on their kids’ soccer or baseball games when they themselves are still kids?
Teen recovery programs focus on issues that are important to teens. Seems obvious, but just as you would not stick a teen in a group of adults, you would most likely not opt to stick an adult into a group of teens either. No matter how open-minded we think we are, there is a tendency to dismiss the opinions of those who do not have a similar life experiences as us, and that is the root of the issue.