During the past twenty years, there have been many strategies and programs which have been developed in the community for teens, hoping to gain some momentum against addiction and alcoholism. Prevention and intervention have been historically conceived to address those addictions that our youth are experiencing. Anti-drug campaigns, motivational speakers, group support, mentorship, and family counseling services have been utilized repeatedly; all with limited success.
Students in our school district asked for more. Too many friends were dying. They voiced a need for groups that were more effective, more meaningful, while providing a pattern for positive living. Several of the students, who had attended AA meetings with friends or family members, wanted to try a 12 step program at school. They admired the commitment that they witnessed in this program; however, they wanted to create their own format, one that would be more relative to teens.
Their concerns seemed reasonable. Recently, Narcotics Anonymous (NA) listed a table of participation in meetings throughout the world according to age group. Only 3% of their attendance was inclusive of young adults ages 20 and under. This statistic alone seemed to verify the need for a 12 step program that was easily accessible and relative to teens. It was through student insistence that Teen Addiction Anonymous finally became a part of our high school prevention program.
The conflict of church and state, prayer in schools and entrusting in "God" as a form of education, were obvious conflicts that students understood needed to be resolved. Therefore, the students adjusted the 12 step program to fit their own interpretation. They changed the terminology to fit their vocabulary, and addressed the issues of "prayer" and "Higher Power" as explained in the training manual that was conceived. If Teen Addiction Anonymous is offered in the private sector, this terminology may not need to be addressed in the same manner, however, their program now became universally acceptable.
Through their translation of the program, we were able to commit to running 12 step meetings in our school. Since our program was created for students in terms of addressing any and all addictions, we chose a new name for our group. The title, Teen Addiction Anonymous, a teen generated program, can now be used by all teens who choose to fight through any and all personal addictions. Teens are now given the opportunity to work together toward recovery using the 12 step program as their guideline.
We challenge you to commit to the concept of Teen Addiction Anonymous in your schools and communities. Use our experiences to help you with this process. Meet with other schools, community organizations, and AA/NA members asking for their support and advice in this journey. Continue to evaluate and promote sobriety with teens. In a seemingly impossible situation, where society often plays havoc with young lives, where families are often shattered through "use", and where teen lives are in constant jeopardy, Teen Addiction Anonymous is an answer toward the fight for survival. Let us join hands together, commit to a Higher Power, embrace the Serenity Pledge, and believe in the possibility of healing. Teen Addiction Anonymous offers a new beginning and a chance to save a young life.