Publications by Year: 2007

Kelly, J. F., & Myers, M. G. (2007). Adolescents’ participation in Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous: Review, implications, and future directions. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs , 39 (3), 259-269. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Youth treatment programs frequently employ 12-Step concepts and encourage participation in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA). Since AA/NA groups are easily accessible at no charge and provide flexible support at times of high relapse risk they hold promise as a treatment adjunct in an increasingly cost-constricting economic climate. Yet, due to concerns related to adolescents' developmental status, skepticism exists regarding the utility of AA/NA for youth. This review evaluates the empirical evidence in this regard, identifies and discusses knowledge gaps, and recommends areas for future research. Searches were conducted in PsychINFO, Medline, relevant literature and by personal correspondence. Findings suggest youth may benefit from AA/NA participation following treatment, but conclusions are limited by four important factors: (1) a small number of studies; (2) no studies with outpatients; (3) existing evidence is solely observational; and (4) only partial measurement of the 12-Step construct. While surveys of adolescent SUD treatment programs indicate widespread clinical interest and application of adult-derived 12-Step approaches this level of enthusiasm has not been reflected in the research community. Qualitative research is needed to improve our understanding of youth-specific AA/NA barriers, and efficacy, comparative effectiveness, and process studies are still needed to inform clinical practice guidelines for youth providers.