Young People are being failed by AA in more ways than even this article outlines. In this Washington Post article author Chelsea speaks about the drug connections and party buddies she met at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. She is right that alternatives for young people are not sufficient. Part of the problem is AA plays an integral part in blocking other programs from expanding. They convince Drug Courts that AA is the only way. You have judges and probation officers demand that court mandates have a sponsor. Well, only AA/NA has sponsors! I would suggest young people and their parents check out www.smartrecovery.com . This is a non religious science based free program that includes online meetings and lots of free online material. Also they have a section for friends and family! Check it out! Support Alternatives to AA!
How AA Fails To Support Young Addict
The Washington Post
By Chelsea Carmona, Published: July 6
I was 20 when I attended my first Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.
“Hi, I’m Chelsea, and I’m an addict,” I said, introducing myself to a group of mostly middle-aged men and women.
The room fell silent.
“No!” a discouraging voice bellowed from the back of the room. “This is a meeting for alcoholics!”
I didn’t understand. The staff at my inpatient treatment program had told me that newcomers were always welcome in AA. In fact, they said that if I wanted to get well, AA was the best place to go. I wouldn’t find the kind of sobriety in Narcotics Anonymous, the 12-step program for drug addicts, that I would in AA. “I’m so sorry,” I mumbled to the group. “I didn’t mean to offend anyone.”
I started again: “I’m Chelsea, and I’m an alcoholic.”
Admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery, but perpetually admitting you have a problem that you don’t actually have can make recovery difficult. Accordingly to AA’s literature, approximately 10 percent of members are under age 30. Many of these younger folks are only beginning to struggle with addiction to drugs or alcohol. The recovery community requires them to fully take on the addict and alcoholic identity as a part of the acceptance process. But, from what I’ve seen, by defining these members as addicts or alcoholics, 12-step programs can unintentionally encourage their members to develop self-fulfilling prophecies.
Adolescents and young adults are deeply affected by the labels thrust upon them. Once labeled “troublemakers” or “difficult” by parents or teachers, they find it hard to overcome such a persona. In my experience, many of those who acquired the addict/alcoholic designation, even if they didn’t deserve it at first, began to behave accordingly.
When I labeled myself an alcoholic that day, I hadn’t picked up a drink in almost three years, and I’d never been a heavy drinker. My troubles began when I was introduced to Adderall during finals week my first year in college. As a high-achiever who was struggling with the freshman 15, stimulants seemed like the solution to my problems. I could sit in class all day, study all night and skip meals without the slightest hint of exhaustion. Most important, I could compete with the other students who were also abusing such drugs.
That is perhaps the most disheartening aspect of 12-step recovery and inpatient care: Because most of their AA colleagues are older, the adolescents I met in treatment found more drug connections, party buddies and rehab romances than they did mentors, counselors and long-term sober friends.
The lying played out during AA meetings on a regular basis. I’ll never forget when a friend stumbled up to the front of the room, his sponsor beaming with pride, to take his chip for being sober for 30 days. He was high as a kite, but no one said anything because we didn’t want to risk alienating him from his support system. AA’s Old-Timers, older alcoholics with long-term sobriety, and our treatment center’s counselors would have surely told his parents that their son needed some serious tough love. They would have recommended kicking him out of the house and taking his car, preventing him from attending work or school. What little he had left in his life would be gone.
For young people, there aren’t a lot of alternatives to AA. Those who choose not to follow the rigid 12-step structure are almost always viewed as in denial or on the verge of relapse. Although many addicted teenagers are in denial, those who genuinely wish to find sobriety are forced into a “with us or against us” environment in which addiction can thrive.