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Researchers Say Addicted Teens Do Better When They Participate in AA or NA

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posted 11:01 AM EST, Tue April 17, 2012

Teens with substance abuse problems who get involved in AA or NA during the first year of recovery are more likely to maintain abstinence than teens who do not.

In a study which confirms that teens respond like adults to AA or NA participation, researchers found that teens who participated in a mutual self help group like AA after the end of a period of treatment were more likely to stay abstinent than teens who did not.

The Study

Researchers at the Center for Addiction Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital wanted to know if getting involved with mutual self help groups like AA or NA really helped teens in recovery stay abstinent.

To find out, they followed 127 teen (14 to 19 years) subjects through their first year of addiction treatment, checking in with each subject at intake and at 3, 6 and 12 months after intake, and recorded information on each subject’s use of mutual self help groups and degree of interaction with a personal sponsor.

The Results

  • Between a quarter and a third of the subjects participated in AA or NA throughout the first year of treatment
  • Subjects who attended AA or NA meetings did better than those who did not and those who attended meetings most frequently (once a week or more) were most likely to maintain abstinence
  • Other factors which were associated with a greater probability of maintaining abstinence were finding and working with a sponsor and participating verbally at meetings

Based on the results, the study authors suggest that those working with adolescents during the early recovery period should encourage participation in AA or NA.

The full study results will be available to read in the July 2012 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

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Story Highlights
  • AA and NA: Teens who get involved in a 12 steps program during the first year of recovery are more likely to stay abstinent
  • Getting a Sponsor: Actively participating by speaking at meetings and working with a sponsor further increases the likelihood of maintaining abstinence
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