Each and every day, roughly 75 teens enter alcohol treatment. Part of the care they receive is Alcoholics Anonymous. AA an important part of therapy, but it’s highly misunderstood by a lot of people. At its heart, it’s about attending regular meetings—an important skill for anyone in recovery, religious or not.
Fundamentals of AA
Whereas rehab programs are run by licensed professionals, AA is founded and run by fellow addicts—peers, essentially. AA is a big peer group that shares a common goal, staying sober. It’s about working together, sharing strategies, and keeping each other on track. It’s something from which all teens can benefit, addicted or not. For teens in recovery, AA serves as a sobriety safety net.
AA meetings follow one of two formats: open and closed. Open meetings are helpful because they are available to friends and family who could use the education. At these meetings, speakers discuss their own alcoholism histories and. Closed meetings are where members receive the intensive help. Meetings are held once or twice per week. Believe it or not, they’re completely free.
Working the Program
As an active AA member, teens are asked to:
- Work with an experienced AA member
- Mentor new members
- Volunteer within the community
- Participate in social outings
- Make amends for past mistakes
- Give up control to a higher power
In AA, addiction is viewed a chronic problem, a problem that can only be tackled one day at a time. Once someone gives up the notion that they can resist temptations, the question then becomes, “How do I minimize the temptation?” Teenage years in particular are filled with these temptations.
Finding a Meeting
10 percent of AA members are younger than 30, but it still might be best to look for meetings that are specifically targeted for teenagers. Most traditional facilities will happily point you in their direction. Participating in adult meetings may be helpful too, especially for teens who have lacked adult role models in their lives. Don’t feel pressured to sign up for the first meeting place your family checks out.