“AA attendance appears to mobilize the same intrinsic psychological processes (e.g., motivation for abstinence, abstinence self-efficacy, and abstinence-focused coping skills) that are mobilized by professional treatments. In addition, recent studies have shown that AA participation helps individuals reduce depression symptoms. This is significant, as many relapses are attributable to negative effect.” (Kelly & Yeterian, 2010)
As a caution though, I would advice adolescents to be wary of some of the unhelpful rhetoric that has infiltrated into AA programs. In one of the meetings that I attended, I felt uneasy with the emphasis on ‘powerlessness’, ‘remedying character defects’, etc. I simply do not buy the assertion that alcoholism is a symbol of deep character flaws. The problem is, in my view, a symptom of major psychological and emotional imbalances in an individual life. The causal factors are mostly extraneous and cannot be wished away using will power.
In conclusion, teenage alcoholism is a major problem confronting American society today. The extent of the problem is borne by the fact that colleges are banning alcoholic products to be consumed within the campus. The University of Colorado is a pioneer in this regard, having taken this brave measure nearly two decades ago. It’s not beyond college students to understand the distinctions between alcohol consumption and alcohol abuse. An abuser is the “date rapist, the drunken driver, the slob roommate turned post-party puker back in the dorm, the drunken clown who pulls fire alarms at 4 a.m., the brawler who picks fights with resident assistants.” (McCarthy, 1995, p. 18) But for those unfortunate enough not to be able to make that distinction, there are Alcoholics Anonymous programs for rescue.
Kelly, John F., and Julie D. Yeterian. “Using Mutual-Help Groups to Address Alcohol Problems: Research Is Beginning to Show That Attendance at Alcoholics Anonymous Meetings Increases the Odds of Recovery and Improves Mood and Well-Being.” The Journal of Employee Assistance July 2010: 5+.
McCarthy, Colman. “Drinking, Learning Don’t Mix at College.” National Catholic Reporter3 Nov. 1995: 18.
Sarah Brandon, “Members of Alcoholics Anonymous.At Just 14; Teens Fighting Booze Addiction.” The Mirror (London, England) 24 June 2009.
Summers, Nick. “A Struggle Inside AA; Recovering Alcoholics Say a Washington, D.C., Group Has Hijacked the 12-Step Program’s Name.” Newsweek 7 May 2007.
Laura Stakal, “Teens Learn from Alcoholic’s Tale.” Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL) 12 May 1999.