12 Step Programs: Helping Adolescents Find Recovery

Many treatment programs for adolescents with alcohol, drugs and other addictions will use what is well known as the ’12 Steps’.

How can 12 step programs help those teens seeking recovery? First let’s take a look at where it all began.

The 12-step program is synonymous to Alcoholics Anonymous, which is where it originated. The steps are commonly directed at treating addictions but they can also be used in a variety of different situations. Traditionally, they’re based on Christian ideology but they can be altered to meet each individuals particular intervention and recovery needs.

The website www.12step.org listed the steps as follows:

  1. Powerlessness
  2. Hope
  3. Faith
  4. Inventory
  5. Honesty
  6. Preparation
  7. Letting go
  8. Humility
  9. Forgiveness
  10. Continuous inventory
  11. Conscious contact
  12. Carrying the message.

Focusing on each step individually and not moving on to the next until the previous step has been completed are the keys to attaining full recovery. These steps or their variations are used in most 12-step programs for adults and teens alike. The main challenge to any person in search of recovery is to stay on task and deal with the issues that are destroying them.

The 12 step programs are interventions focused on helping those with addictions alleviate their present destructive situation, as long as they’re willing to seek assistance and take ownership of their problems. Don’t worry if your teen hasn’t reached that stage before entering treatment. This is the first step of any of the intervention programs once you get them into a recovery program whether it’s inpatient or outpatient.

The programs are structured to allow everyone to work toward the same goal even though their situations may be very different from each other. The 12 steps bring together all of the issues concerning the addiction and the subsequent resolution of what is a very destructive cycle.

These type of intervention programs are also designed to allow each individual teen to work at their own pace and are conditionally based on the type of problems being addressed as well as the level of severity. The steps aren’t given a strict time frame for completion.

It is however important to remember that in order to successfully complete the program, support offered by others in recovery as well as by sponsors, counselors, parents, friends, families, and others, is absolutely necessary. You as parents are a very important ingredient.

It’s not an easy task to finish each step and it may even seem impossible for some teenagers, but once teens firmly decide to participate in the process of recovery, they will be on a path that will give them the opportunity to rediscover themselves physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Although 12 step programs are specifically designed to help each individual, not all people in need of treatment are content with this process. Some people seeking recovery don’t feel comfortable with the idea that the programs come from a Christian based approach, but belief in this approach is not necessary to achieve a successful outcome.

Many 12-step programs structured for adults and teenagers alike encourage participants to view the steps in a way that will work for them individually so they can be at ease following the procedures. Most of the different types of treatment facilities and recovery programs use a non-biased interpretation of the 12 steps and persuade participants to complete the program in accordance with their own beliefs even if that means no belief in a higher power at all.

Following the process and procedures of these type of 12 step programs has proved to be very effective and efficient teen intervention. As a result, many adolescents do turn their lives around for good. However, you and your teenager must realize that recovery is a constant and continuous process.

Therefore, it’s essential to understand that teens must keep on working the 12 step program even after they have completed their 12 steps and believe they have conquered their addiction. This will help prevent them from relapsing and going back to where they were before. Following this continual process of change will help keep teens focused on their future goals.

With teens and recovery from addictions, keep in mind that the more parent involvement there is in the recovery process the more likely it will be that your teen will successfully recover.