Teen Alcohol TreatmentReasons why AA is not a good choice for adolescents and alcohol abuse
Be you a child, a teen or an adult, if you go to most family physicians/doctors in the U.S./U.K. and reveal that you think you might be drinking too much, one of two things is more than likely to happen:
You will be asked a few questions and undergo a brief physical examination (perhaps blood will be taken.) Then, if it is deemed that you have a 'drinking issue' the doctor will do his thing and advise you to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and maybe to attend some kind of counseling/therapy.
You will be asked a few questions and undergo a brief physical examination (perhaps blood will be taken.)If the doctor concludes that you have a more serious drinking problems then he or she will refer you to a specialist for further tests on your liver etc, may prescribe medication and will advise you to enter a treatment facility. A treatment facility that will more than likely (there's an 85% chance) adhere to the 12 step method, which means that, after your four or five weeks of very expensive treatment you will be expected to attend AA meetings for the REST OF YOUR LIFE....that is, if you want to remain 'well' and sober.
In short, the great majority of doctors think that attendance at Alcoholics Anonymous is essential for anybody who thinks they have a drinking problem.
What makes it worse is that these doctors recommend AA largely on the basis of unsubstantiated hearsay. There is a paucity of statistics when it comes to the effectiveness of the 12 steps, however, recent research reveals that AA's success rate (measured by how many members stay sober over a specific period) is no better than that for trying to quit on your own (5%).
Teen Alcohol Treatment And AA
This is bad enough in itself but what is even worse is that adolescents, in need of teen alcohol treatment are routinely referred to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings by the courts, counselors, doctors, priests, youth leaders, family members etc. purely on the basis of hearsay.
You might ask yourself why it is particularly bad to send a minor to a meeting of people whose main motivation in attending is to stay off drink.
There are two main reasons (there are many others but let1s concentrate on these) why AA meetings are not suitable for teens and they are :
They, the teens, are forever labeled as alcoholics.
A teen in an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting is easy prey for the unscrupulous and criminal.
What follows is a discussion of these two issues.
Teen Alcohol Treatment And AA: Labeling
As stated above, if a teen tells an adult in a position of authority that he/she has a drinking problems, then that adult will, in most cases, advise the teen to attend AA.
If the child (and, yes, a teen is a child) goes to the meetings, over time then they will be cajoled and encouraged into admitting they are alcoholic. If they do not take this first step, they will not be accepted (not explicitly, mind you, AA is much more subtle than that) as part of the group. What do most teens desperately want? To be part of something, to belong. AA gives them this......at a price.
The price is that the teen is now labeled an alcoholic. In the same breath they say their name, they say they are an alcoholic.
Hello, My name is Charles, I am an alcoholic
And this label will follow them around for the rest of their lives. Once friends, relations, teachers and acquaintances hear that so-and-so is attending AA, the transformation from, I am a teen that abuses alcohol (as many do) to I am an alcoholic teen, is complete.
Just because somebody (and not just a teen) thinks they have a problem with alcohol does not makes them an alcoholic. Countless kids drink too much and relatively regularly. They do not go to AA, they do not 'become' alcoholics.
The only difference between them and the teen labeled an alcoholic is not in their drinking habits, but in the fact that the former do not seek help and so are not referred to AA by well-meaning but uninformed adults.
AA meetings create alcoholic teens, children who will forever carry the label of alcoholic, whether they want to or not.
Of course, there are times when a teen does develop full-blown alcoholism, though, this is a relatively rare occurrence. Complete our Alcoholism and Teenagers Test to determine whether you are alcohol dependent.
If you are a parent, and concerned about your teen's drinking, take a look at our page on Signs of Adolescent Alcoholism and then decide if you have something to worry about.
Alcoholics Anonymous meetings are open to all and all are anonymous. Members typically use their first name and the principle of anonymity is always respected and is essential to the functioning of the group. Due to the stigma attached to alcoholism, it is only by guaranteeing that members will not be identified that encourages many to attend.
But this guarantee of anonymity also has a dark side. Because there are no criteria for membership, AA meetings can become places which attract the deviant and unscrupulous. Children can be at particular risk.
Many adults who attend AA meetings are vulnerable as a result of their alcohol dependency and the havoc it has wreaked on their lives. Children are just plain vulnerable and open to abuse (be it physical, emotional or sexual).
Think twice before referring a child/teen for teen alcohol treatment to Alcoholics Anonymous, it is a place for adults. There are other options for teen alcohol treatment that should be considered before AA.
If you found this page helpful, then the following may be of interest to you:
Deborah Morrow, M.S. Addiction Psychology, is the director of treatment programs for The Alcoholism Guide website. In her practice Deborah provides on-line coaching and support for those dependent on alcohol or who require other services such as relapse prevention or court mandated services. (Read More)