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Triple Divide Lodge

12 steps

Initiating the 12 Steps Program: Helping Adolescents Overcome Addiction

The 12 Steps are based on spiritual principles and are intended to aid individuals in recovery from substance use addictions, behavioral addictions, or other compulsive behaviors. The 12 steps have been in existence since 1937. A simple internet search will reveal over 100 ways the steps are utilized. Yet there are claims there is no evidence of their efficacy. Why the dispute?

While it is true there is a shortage of clinical trials on the efficacy of the 12 steps (and there are many reasons for this), the sheer number of ways in which they are being adapted and utilized indicates something.

When being presented with the 12 steps, nearly everyone has some emotional reaction. In many ways it’s like cilantro, you either really like it, don’t like it, or haven’t had any experience with it.  Even in the case of the former, there tends to be some stereotyping that one has towards it. When applied to adolescents, these stereotypes can be even more exaggerated.

But, nonetheless, the 12 steps can be successfully utilized with adolescents and young adults and should be included in ones’ toolkit for recovery. 

Inherent in the steps is an opening for anyone on a recovery path to apply them where they are. In creating the steps, the early members of Alcoholics Anonymous (where they first appeared in the book by the same name) went to great lengths to be certain there would be nothing in them that would be a roadblock based on religious or cultural grounds and based on the extent of their usage, they were successful. 

The main roadblock tends to be personal. This can be the result of the individual’s lived experiences, the way they are presented, or a combination of both. With this understanding in mind, creating an opening for the individual to consider and even initiate an attempt at 12 step usage may be all that is needed to set someone on an open-minded path to their application and gain some benefit from them. Even if they are applied for a short time, a long time, or during periodic times, they are a powerful tool for many, but it takes experience to assist many people in an initial application.

Triple Divide Lodge Can Help

Triple Divide Lodge helps adolescent males through a combination of residential treatment and wilderness therapy. Our clinical programming utilizes the 12 Step model as part of the treatment process. Our primary goals are to help your child identify their substance use challenges, learn healthy coping skills, and gain the ability to lead a healthier, happier life. For more information, contact us today at 406-296-5776.

Patrick Hawkins is a Licensed Addictions Counselor. Since 1995 he has been dedicated to working with adolescents and young adults. He began working in this type of model in 1996 and has become a nationally trusted name utilizing the outdoors as a part of substance abuse treatment. He has led over 50 expeditions, accumulated over 1,100 days in the backcountry treating clients, and helped hundreds of young men and their families work toward recovery. Patrick helped teens with substance use disorders during his time as the Clinical Director of a wilderness therapy program for young men with drug and alcohol addictions. An expert in the field of experiential therapy, Patrick has led hundreds of clients on wilderness expeditions and supported their sobriety. Contact him at (406) 296-5776


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