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Researchers from Harvard School of Medicine, Decision Sciences Institute of Providence and the Hazelden Foundation recently examined treatment outcomes of young adults participating in 12-step support groups.
The age group focused on included more than 300 young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 and looked at their participation in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) recovery programs.
Study co-author John Kelly, PhD wrote that “Consistent and active involvement maintains and increases the benefit of participation, resulting in sustained improvement over time,” and noted that mere attendance doesn’t display quite the same results.
According to Join Together, another study that is yet to be published found young adults who attended meetings that had at least some people in the same age range during their first three months after treatment had better abstinence rates than those who attended meetings with only older adult members.
It has been observed through the centuries that group behavior can influence an individual. “Peer pressure” is often used with a negative connotation, but here it is shown to have a positive outcome.
How much do you think this applies to the treatment setting itself? How much emphasis should be placed on age-specific or gender-specific programs with regard to outcomes? There is apparently an argument to be made in favor of it as well as the aftercare support.
Perhaps the best thing is to find out what individuals will respond to be the most, as sometimes the opposite can be true – meaning younger adults look up to and learn more from people who are older than them and have more experience in life and recovery.