Tailoring 12-Step Program to Teens, Young Adults Effective

Communicating with teens and young adults can often be a challenge, but adding substance use disorders to the equation can make the task particularly complex. Hear recommendations for effective approaches to treating this patient population during Workshop 3, “Making 12-Step Programs Meaningful for Adolescents and Young Adults,” from 10 a.m. to noon, today, in Grand Salon East, Salon B.

In the first half of the workshop, Steven Jaffe, M.D., Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry, Emory University, and Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Morehouse School of Medicine, will present scientific studies demonstrating the effectiveness of adolescent participation in 12-step programs. He also will present the use of his workbooks that can be used to modify 12-step treatment to be meaningful for adolescents and young adults.

With the intervention workbooks, patients respond to specific, concrete questions that examine the negative consequences of drug and alcohol use. Patients present their answers during a one-on-one or group-counseling setting. During the workshop, Dr. Jaffe will demonstrate how this interaction works by presenting a role-playing exercise with a mock patient.

Through his workbooks, he strategically changes such 12-step treatment program concepts as “powerlessness” to that of “enhancing your power” so that you can have a fulfilling life by stopping the use of drugs and alcohol.

The second half of the workshop will feature Clint Stonebraker, CADC, CAC-2, CCS, Executive Director, and Matthew Meyer, CADC, CAC, CCS, Program Director, both of The Insight Program, Atlanta. This is an intensive outpatient program that emphasizes “enthusiastic sobriety” through “fun and exciting” group participation. The issue of spirituality in 12-step programs is often criticized for being “religious, sexist, and too abstract.” In this portion of the workshop, presenters will discuss strategies for making spirituality meaningful.

Dr. Jaffe says that at the conclusion the workshop, he hopes participants would have a better understanding of the research demonstrating the effectiveness of adolescent participation in 12-step groups, the value of the workbook format for adolescents to work the steps, and an appreciation of the importance of making a 12-step treatment program fun and exciting for this young population.

The ASAM Twelve-Step Recovery Action Group has a long-standing interest in programs, such as the one where Dr. Jaffe works. Marc Galanter, M.D., ASAM Board of Directors member and Twelve-Step Recovery Action Group Chair, says the group is dedicated to educating physicians about 12-step treatment programs, improving relations between the medical and addiction communities about the programs, and promoting medically grounded research of such programs. The group meets annually at the ASAM Annual Medical-Scientific Conference.