Can Adolescents Benefit From 12-Step Programs as Part of Extended Care?

Can Adolescents Benefit From 12-Step Programs as Part of Extended Care?

By: Cumberland Heights

adolescent 12-Step programsAdolescents face unique challenges, because they are learning who they are alongside a number of changes occurring within and around them. They’re trying to find their path and sometimes that path leads them down the road of addiction and recovery. Even at this young age, it’s absolutely possible for teens to seek help, recover and go on to live happy and successful lives. 12-Step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) have been shown to provide a lot of social support for those in recovery and teens in particular really benefit from the spiritual and “giving” component associated with these types of programs.

A 2016 study published in the Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America involved the review of 10 studies with continuing care for treatment of adolescents. They found that the social support derived from 12-Step programs related to adolescents specifically really helped teens as they continued to work towards recovery maintenance. What type of teens would benefit most from this?

As stated on The Fix, associate director John F. Kelly at the Massachusetts General Hospital stated, “Starting an on-site NA or AA young person’s meeting is another good idea. Not all youth will be motivated to attend, but the more severely substance-involved ones will be more likely to give meetings a try and these are the ones most likely to benefit.”

What about teens who aren’t severely at risk for relapse, but could still benefit from 12-Step based programs? Researchers from around the United States have suggested a combination of continuing care techniques along with 12-Step participation, and these 2 additions have actually been shown to increase engagement in the program:

  • Motivational enhancement therapy (MET)
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

Recovery doesn’t stop after formalized treatment. Support your adolescent by giving them the means to continue seeking recovery maintenance groups and help them remember just how far they’ve come. Adolescents face significant emotional and social upheavals as they try to navigate their way to adulthood and both residential and after-care maintenance could truly help guide the way.


Adolescent Recovery of Cumberland Heights (ARCH) originally began in 1985 when there were few other adolescent programs like it in the country. In 2019, we’re expanding our continuum of services with ARCH Academy, a unique program located in Kingston Springs that offers 60 days to 6 months of residential care to adolescent boys ages 14-18 who are struggling with alcohol and/or drug addiction. This new program stems from Cumberland Heights, which has been around since 1966 and is located in Nashville, Tennessee. The adolescent age is a critical time for development, making this a crucial time of positive influence. For more information, call us today at 1-800-646-9998.

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