Why recovery is an important topic for young people
When our modern idea of recovery from drugs and alcohol first took form in the 1930s, young people were not factored into the equation of sobriety. In fact during those early years of recovery very few women were even introduced to the ideas springing forth that would eventually become the 12 Steps. For the most part these early participants in the recovery process were middle-aged men, who shared similar stories and came from similar backgrounds, and though they didn’t mean for this to happen, as evidenced by the book they wrote, it just seems to have happened that way.
A lot has changed since this time though and today people in recovery can be found in just about every country throughout the world, representing every race, religion, and gender imaginable. On top of that they have developed 12-step programs for different types of addiction. Yet there is still a group that seems to be less represented in the recovery community than others, and that group is young people. When I say young people here, I mean people in their teens to early twenties, and while there has been an increase in the amount of young people seeking recovery in the past 20 years or so, they are often times not given a far shake at this way of life. The reason for this is a combination of factors, some self-imposed, and some as the result of them not having the resources available to them in order to sustain recovery.
As we have begun to understand on a greater level that young people can and do recover, we have started to implement programs that are tailor made for their needs and in doing so, there has been a growing movement of young people who have recovered from their addiction. Some of these programs include Recovery High Schools, which are schools specifically designed to help promote a recovery community among teens and aid them in their continued sobriety. These schools have proven to be incredibly effective and have helped many adolescents find their own unique brand of recovery, all while removing them from the toxic environment they created for themselves at their normal high school. These schools and other programs like it are very important because they are allowing these young individuals to break the cycle of addiction earlier then they may have otherwise and in doing so are giving them a new lease on life.
Breaking the cycle of addiction and giving an adolescent their life back is one of the most important reasons why introduction to recovery at an early age is essential. Many people, myself included, did not get sober until later on in life and because of this we experienced years of pain that may have been unnecessary. While yes, I do understand that it takes what it takes to get sober, I can’t help but think that if more early interventions were done and more programs like Recovery High Schools were around, then we would see a greater number of young people maintaining sobriety and we could save them, and their parents a lot of heartache.
If we could introduce them to the way of life offered in recovery in greater numbers it could help change not only their lives, but the lives of those around them as well. I grew up in a fairly religious household; so I was introduced to the ideas of altruism and treating others with kindness and respect at an early age, but it wasn’t until I got sober that I truly understood what these things meant, and truly realized what it looked like to implement them into my life. Once I started to apply these principles into my life, my entire world changed and I became a better person because of it. Now imagine a world where teens, that would have spent years lying and stealing, are instead giving of themselves in order to help others. Imagine a world where they practice the principles of recovery and they are honest and committed to their betterment. That would be an incredible thing, and it is something that I believe to be possible if we were able to introduce recovery to more teenagers.
Lastly, and this is more of a personal thing than anything else, introducing teens to recovery at an early age is important because it can help to break the familial aspect that addiction has. Yes, there is a genetic and hereditary component to addiction, but I believe there to be a significant environmental aspect to it as well. So by introducing recovery to people at an early age could possibly save them from growing up and then raising children during their active addiction. I’m not a psychologist but I think it stands to reason that a child raised by a sober parent has a much better chance at not experiencing the negative effects of addiction later on in their life, then a kid who grows up in an addiction riddled household.
While it is not always easy to get young people to be receptive to the idea of recovery, I think that we are making some great strides in this area. We have seen a more personalized approach to treatment over the past few years and a number of programs specifically designed with adolescents in mind. These things will become increasingly more important as we begin to address the state of drug abuse in this country in the coming years, and my hope is that more young people will find their way into a sober life, and in doing so they will hopefully avoid the harsh years that come with extended addiction.
Rose Lockinger is passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing.