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Study Finds Young Adults With Addiction Want to Change But Need Help

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Many young adults entering treatment for an addiction want to change, but don’t have the skills, confidence or commitment to do so without help, a new study suggests.

The study concludes young people can gain the skills and confidence through treatment, PsychCentral reports. The researchers followed 303 young adults, ages 18 to 24, who attended a 12-step-based residential treatment program for alcohol or drug addiction. They measured the levels of change in areas including motivation, coping skills, self-confidence, psychological distress and commitment to participating in support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).

In the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, the researchers write that study participants were very motivated to remain abstinent at the beginning of the study, but scored low in coping skills, self-confidence and commitment to attending support groups. Three months after treatment ended, all of these measures improved. These changes during treatment were associated with abstinence from alcohol or other drug use to varying degrees three months after treatment ended.

“The young people in our study were quite motivated to do well in treatment but lacked the confidence, coping skills and commitment to AA that are critical to longer-term success,” study co-author Valerie Slaymaker, PhD, of The Butler Center for Research at Hazelden, said in a news release. “Treatment appears to work by increasing their confidence and ability to make and sustain healthy, recovery-related efforts.”

2 Responses to this article

  1. Patti Herndon / October 14, 2011 at 10:35 pm

    AMEN to your comment, Doogiem! ;0) I couldn’t agree more. Well said! And, thank you for taking the time to bring to attention some indispensable recovery wisdom.

    Our society’s status quo inclination has been that there is ‘pretty much’ only one brand of support/support group philosophy that can facilitate recovery in the “baffling and cunning” challenge of addiction.

    Where teens and young adults are concerned there are elements that must be considered that pertain to their available resources for decision-making and coping -features that are unique to the cognitive processing of that age bracket. These features include a both psychological and physiological components.

    It’s a complex process, maturing through those intense years of individuation. Add addiction/substance use disorder to that process…It’s an even more difficult road.

    Not to mention that we should also be taking into consideration the individual circumstances that come to play a significant role in relation to a person’s individual coping mechanism/available resources for coping related directly to their particular support system, their particular family system dynamics.

    It’s critical to understand and accept that the AA approach is not going to be an appropriate match for every individual. We can do more harm than good as parents, or other concerned significant others by being inflexible in our attitude -pushing addiction-challenged loved ones to embrace AA, (or any other support frame for that matter), as the holy grail of recovery, especially if their involvement in any support method/group has proven repeatedly to fail to elicit healthy change.

    AA is simply not the only proven method of support in recovery -This based on current, evidence-based clinical research.

    By all means…If AA involvement proves to help facilitate healthy change behaviors toward sustainable recovery then, of course, keep it up. If it doesn’t, though, in some reasonable amount of time; it’s time to try something else.

    AA works for some…That’s a good, good thing. It doesnt work for everyone…That’s a fact.

    Part of our accountability as parents and loved ones of addiction-challenged family members is to encourage and support “them” in discovering and increasing their own innate self-efficacy. We need to be consistently practicing active listening and observing in order to effectively support a loved one who is addicted to alcohol or other drugs.

    From the article above: “Treatment appears to work by increasing their confidence and ability to make and sustain healthy, recovery-related efforts.”

    That’s right…and this “increase” in confidence and ability to make and sustain efforts …” is known as “self-efficacy”. Basically, self-efficacy is the belief/perception we hold regarding our own ability to cope successfully with the challenges and stressors in our life, whatever they may be.

    It is when a person develops and builds belief that they can effectively problem-solve for their individual circumstances that truest momentum is gained in the addiction journey, and sustainable change becomes something viewed by self as do-able/reach-able.

    Be it Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), S.M.A.R.T recovery, (Self Management and Recovery Training), Rational Recovery or other support options, the important focus, an encouraging, motivating focus is that there are MULTIPLE options.

    Gotta’ keep on trying. Sometimes that means trying ‘something else’ until what it is we try helps ;0).

    “Addiction is the journey….Recovery is the destination.”

  2. doogiem / October 12, 2011 at 9:44 am

    Once again: It’s not the committment to AA per se that’s critical, but the committment supports, be they religious, secular, or spiritual in nature.

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