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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Young People in Alcoholics Anonymous

AA meeting sign
12-Step meetings like Alcoholic Anonymous have helped millions better their lives. There are no dues or fees and there is no age limit as well; it is not uncommon to see teenagers who have struggled with the disease of addiction inside the rooms of A.A. and N.A.

Young people are a small percentage of 12-step program attendees, but teenagers and young adults can better their lives greatly from 12-Step meetings like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA), according to expert John Kelly, PhD, Associate Professor in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

AA and NA members under the age of 20 make up two percent of AA and NA membership and 13 percent are under the age of 30, according to Kelly. PhD, “Young people are a minority in these groups, so they may find it more difficult initially to identify with members who are older and have different challenges, such as children, elderly parents and job loss,” said Dr. Kelly.

In most cities there are young people's meetings, such gatherings make it easier for young people beginners in A.A. and N.A to relate with their peers. “After this initial engagement, however, young adults may find it more beneficial to branch out to more mixed-age meetings,” he says. “Older people are more likely to have long-term sobriety, and generally have greater life experience and wisdom. Our recent findings support the notion that age similarity is good for early engagement and for enhancing sobriety, but confers less benefit in the long term.”

Dr. Kelly presented research he conducted with 300 young adults, ages 18 to 24, at a recent meeting of the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers. His research dealt with participation and involvement in 12-step programs following inpatient substance use disorder (SUD) treatment. Kelly observed high rates of attendance and involvement, such as sharing at meetings, correlated with even more days of abstinence.

The study was published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

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