How Are We Treating Newly Sober Teens?
I was on Facebook the other day (as I am far too often), and noticed a post from a friend I’ve known since she entered recovery more than 15 years ago. The post was one of those funny little ecards asking the reader to take her negativity elsewhere.
The thing is, when I met my friend, she was barely out of high school and was the most angry and surly person I’d ever met. She was sober and hated every minute of it. She did her darndest to make us all miserable too but we just laughed and loved her anyway.
Today, she is married and has steadily climbed the seniority ladder at the company she joined not long after entering recovery. Instead of her former junk food and sedentary self, she’s into high-endurance fitness and a healthy lifestyle.
I am so proud of her.
The miracle of teenage recovery
I’ve met many people who entered recovery as teenagers after four, five or six years of intense addiction. I’m really in awe because I just can’t fathom what it must feel like to suddenly find yourself sober and surrounded by all these old people in recovery.
Heck, I was 30 and felt that way.
All recovery is a miracle, but at 17 or 18 years of age? Or younger? For those of us who have more recovery time than these young folks have been alive, I have a question:
How are we treating these kids when they enter recovery?
I’ve sat in rigid 12 Step meetings when so-called old timers shut down a young person for speaking of substances outside the scope of the meeting. I’ve watched these teens flounder because there was no other person within a generation willing to share the joys of early recovery with them.
Thankfully, I haven’t witnessed that kind of lackluster recovery for several years.
Other options for teens
As the iterations of drugs morph among the world’s teens, so have the mutual support organizations. The choices for a recovery path have broadened beyond traditional 12 step groups, including online meeting options.
Plus, there are tremendous role models all over the country thanks in part to an advocacy group called Young People in Recovery (YPR).
There’s something else I’m noticing as I hang around recovering people. The older ones–both chronologically and in terms of sober time–are more willing to embrace not only the teens but the lifestyles that the teens bring to recovery.
I believe technology has helped foster that willingness. It provides a common ground where age applies only if you want it to. I think social media has provided a tremendous boon to young people seeking recovery.
So, good for all of us! Let’s keep spreading the recovery love to those who, like my friend from many years ago, are scared and distrustful.
Let’s keep laughing and loving them anyway.
Wishing you lots of love and laughter this Valentine’s Day.
Photo courtesy of pippalou