Addiction Treatments That Are Effective for Both Adults and Teens

Adults and adolescents have different needs in drug rehab, which is why many addiction treatment centers offer separate programs for these patients. For example, teens typically have much more family involvement, and group therapy has proven to be one of the most effective treatments for this heavily peer influenced age group. For all their differences, recent reports suggest many of the same interventions promote recovery in both adults and teens.


Many adult drug rehabs have caught on to the value of yoga in treating addiction. In addition to physical benefits such as flexibility and stamina, regular yoga practice has been shown to promote relaxation and a connection between mind, body and spirit.

The same benefits apply for teens, according to a recent study by Harvard Medical School. Fifty-one teenagers in 11th and 12th grades reported that yoga helped them cope better with stress and trauma, manage anger, and build resilience compared to high schoolers in a regular Physical Education class. The researchers concluded that yoga may play a role in preventing substance abuse and other mental health problems in teens.

12-Step Recovery

Twelve-step programs have long been considered an essential component of long-term recovery for adults – so much so that programs are offered for a wide range of addictive and compulsive behaviors including gambling, sex, food and a variety of drugs. The usefulness of 12-Step programs has been a source of debate in the past, particularly because the 12-Step model emphasizes lifelong abstinence and powerlessness over drugs and alcohol – concepts that, to some, seem a bit extreme when applied to teenagers.

But a new study suggests that teens in substance abuse treatment benefit from 12-Step recovery just like adults. Of the 25 to 30 percent of teens that attended Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meetings in the one-year study period, those who attended more meetings had significantly better outcomes.

"Importantly, youth who also were in contact with an AA or NA sponsor or who participated verbally during AA/NA meetings had an even better outcome over and above the positive effects from merely attending," said researcher John F. Kelly of the Center for Addiction Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. "These findings support the common clinical recommendation that individuals should 'go to meetings, get a sponsor, and get active.'"

As a result of these findings, teens in substance abuse treatment should be encouraged to try yoga, AA/NA meetings and other interventions until they find what works best for them. For those who get an introduction to AA/NA during treatment, it is important that they find a group that is a good match for them so they feel comfortable continuing to attend meetings after formal treatment ends.

Posted on April 25th, 2012

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