Teens trying to recover from a substance use disorder face different challenges than adults. This is why it’s important for them to have their own substance abuse peer support networks. These support networks come in various forms, so teens can find the ones that suit them best. No matter which one they choose, they are getting the support of their peers who better understand what they are going through compared to adults.
As we explore the benefits of peer support networks, we will look at the different options available for teens looking for this type of support in their recovery and the support available at Ember Recovery.
Types of Substance Abuse Peer Support Networks
Since teens will thrive in different types of programs, knowing what is available is essential. Here are some of the choices teens have:
Many peer support groups come in the form of 12-step programs. While these programs also exist for adults, there are 12-step programs exclusively for teenagers. In these meetings, teens can hear from their peers who have had similar experiences and are going through exactly what they are. This can be more helpful for them than hearing from an adult they may be unable to connect with.
These programs can be spiritual in nature, which may not appeal to all teens. But for some, the spiritual element adds an extra layer of comfort and support.
SMART Recovery (Self-Management and Recovery Training)
While some teens may thrive in 12-step programs, others may prefer a SMART program. The SMART Recovery program has online meetings and a message board for teens needing support during recovery. These programs focus on building motivation and helping teens make positive life changes. They provide an encouraging and welcoming environment for teens to talk freely and ask questions. They can not only connect with their peers but also receive guidance from trained volunteers who have experience with addiction.
Teen Addiction Treatment Centers
Teen addiction treatment centers can also provide teens with a substance abuse peer support network. In these situations, teens live together under one roof while abstaining from drugs and alcohol. Many times, they attend 12-step group programs or other types of programs to aid in their recovery. Teen rehabs not only teach teens how to live a sober life but also learn skills needed for daily living.
Online Peer Support Groups
Online peer support groups can also help teens during recovery by connecting them with their peers. These groups can be convenient because teens don’t have to leave their homes to join. They can also meet teens from all walks of life.
While there are benefits to online support groups, miscommunication can also form, making it difficult for teens to be heard. Also, cyberbullying can become an issue in some cases. If a teen decides to join an online peer support network, they should join one that is led by professionals to prevent these common problems from happening.
What are the Benefits of Peer Support for Addiction?
Research has shown that peer support in addiction can be an effective part of a treatment program.  These are a few of the benefits:
Decrease in Drug and Alcohol Use
Studies have shown that substance abuse peer support networks decrease drug and alcohol use. .This type of support can reduce the frequency of substance use and help people remain sober throughout their program and once it is over.
Make New Friends
Being in recovery can feel isolating. But, through peer support networks, teens can make new friends with peers going through the same things. They can form strong friendships that can last for years to come.
Stay with Treatment
Peer support can help to increase the likelihood that a teen will stick with the treatment program. Knowing they have the support of their peers can make them want to stay on track and help their friends.
Provide a Sense of Belonging
Addiction can make a teenager feel lost and that they don’t belong anywhere. But, in a peer support network, they have a place where they belong. They become valued and feel as though they have a purpose.
Peer mentorship is also a benefit of a peer support network. Peer mentors include those who are in the later stages of recovery and who are sober. They provide those just beginning the process with non-clinical help. Peer mentors can share their experiences to motivate teens to stay on the path to recovery. They show that someone just like them can overcome addiction.
Continued Peer Support
Substance abuse peer support networks can provide long-term benefits. Many teens choose to stay in touch with their peers even after they have achieved sobriety. This is beneficial because they can have someone to contact if they get tempted to use again. They can also have someone to spend time with who is not connected with their substance use or what led them there.
Teens who have had success with peer support networks may also become peer mentors. By giving back to a program that led them to recovery, they continue the cycle of helping teens battle their substance use.
Seeking Help at Ember Recovery
At Ember Recovery, we exclusively deal with teens and their addictions. Our team is committed to helping each teen receive the proper treatment and support during the recovery process. By being exclusively with their peers, they can benefit from being with those who know what they are going through first-hand.
Contact us today to learn more about our variety of treatment programs.
Andrea Dickerson is a Licensed Therapist and Certified Substance Use Counselor who has worked in behavioral health since 1997. Currently, Andrea is the Director of Behavioral Health, overseeing the Ember residential treatment programs and YSS outpatient counseling clinics throughout Central and North Central Iowa. She became a Motivational Interviewing (MI) trainer in 2006 and provides MI trainings throughout Iowa.
Andrea specializes in working with adolescents and their families and enjoys seeing the family relationships grow through therapy. Andrea is also a CARF International Surveyor, going around North America ensuring behavioral health organizations are meeting required standards.
In her free time, Andrea enjoys cheering on the Iowa Hawkeyes and Chicago Cubs, as well as being an active member of Soroptimist International of the Americas (SIA), a global organization that provides women and girls with access to the education and training they need to achieve economic empowerment. She has been a member of the SI of Des Moines club since 2012 and has been actively involved at the regional level, currently serving as Co-Governor of the Peaks to Plains Region.
Through her involvement in SIA, Andrea has been actively involved in the Dream Programs, coordinating annual Dream It, Be It: Career Support for Girls projects, which give girls the tools they need to achieve their education and career goals, empowering them to break cycles of poverty, violence, and abuse.