How Can 12-Step Programs Benefit Young Adults?

Two young adults benefiting from 12-Step programsYoung adults ages 18-29 years old experience unique challenges, as they’re often in social settings that promote substance use. Colleges are known for their “drinking culture”, and even young adults in the workforce find themselves at after-hour work events and social gatherings that beg them to “unwind”. American culture sets us up to believe that after a long, hard day at work, we should reward ourselves by drinking (or, for many, using drugs). What many young adults don’t realize, however, is that this substance abuse can have very real consequences – consequences that can truly take hold of their life.

12-Step programs have been around for hundreds of years, and people of all ages have benefitted from them. The 12-Steps guide people through recovery, along with the opportunity to for fellowship in weekly meetings and sponsorship, which connects them to a person who has maintained sobriety for at least a year in most cases. For concerned parents, friends and family, these 12-Step programs may seem to provide a lot of the structure and support that young adults need – but how might they react?

A 2018 study published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment sought to explore the effects of 12-Step programs for young adults; they found that for this age range in particular, 12-Step programs benefitted them regarding decreased substance use, and for a number of reasons:

  • 12-Step programs allow young adults to meet others who are struggling with similar concerns, which forms a shared sense of community
  • Weekly meetings establish structure for many young adults, which can make it easier to participate
  • The principles of many 12-Step programs are aimed at helping those in recovery restore their mind, body and spirit
  • Sponsorship gives young adults the opportunity to learn from those who have previously walked in their footsteps
  • And more

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) notes that 12-Step programs can oftentimes extend the effects of treatment, which only serves to reinforce their recovery.

Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.