What are 12 Step Programs for Teens Like?

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, overall substance abuse rates have declined slightly in teens over the past few years. However, the rates are still far too high. Also, that doesn’t answer what to do for teens that are already using drugs or alcohol. For them, one of the most successful treatment options is a 12 step program. This begs the question, what are 12 step programs for teens like? They are very similar to the ones for adults. However, to better suit teen’s needs, there have been some changes to the original format.

Teens Helping Teens

Perhaps the biggest change in 12 step programs for teens, is the fact that they only include teens. There are no adult attendees. Occasionally there is an adult counselor to oversee the proceedings, but this is not common. There are several benefits to this, including:

  • the fact that teens are better able to relate to, and communicate with people their own age,
  • they’re not made to feel like an “outsider”, or “youngster”,
  • they benefit greatly from hearing similar stories to their own, and
  • they find it easier to participate when they feel like they are helping other people just like themselves.

All of these benefits help teens have more success in substance abuse treatment. Teen 12 step programs also generally incorporate a facilitation therapy mentality when getting started. This involves having an assigned teen sponsor that takes the teen to their first few meetings, and helps them understand the steps and insures their participation.

Changes for the Digital Age

Teens are able to text their sponsors or counselors.

Teens are able to text their sponsors or counselors.

Another change that greatly helps teens is the movement to digital media. Everyone knows that today’s teens live a large portion of their lives online. 12 step programs for teens have begun to use this to their advantage, and help teens better connect to the 12 step process. Some of these changes are:

  • online 12 step meetings,
  • the ability to text or call sponsors, counselors, and other members of their 12 step group,
  • online chat support groups and counseling sessions, and
  • dedicated and secure social media outlets specifically for teens in 12 step programs.

These changes allow teens to connect to the 12 step process in a way that is understandable and comfortable to them.

What to Expect at a Teen 12 Step Meeting

12 step meetings for teens, much the like the ones for adults, are essentially group therapy sessions. Teens share their stories of addiction and recovery, and offer support and advice to one another. They also discuss and dissect the 12 steps themselves, in order to better understand how to work them. And, according to the Partnership for Drug Free Kids, the steps themselves have been adapted to better accommodate adolescents by empowering them in their recovery, and better explaining the fact that addiction is a disease.

All of this works together with one purpose in mind. That is the recovery of teens struggling with substance abuse or addiction. If you are a teen dealing with this, or know someone who is, you should consider 12 step programs for teens. For more information call us at 1-800-894-1695.We can help.

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