An Army of Young Advocates: Young People in Recovery Share What Worked for Them in Treatment

Article excerpt

Young People in Recovery (YPR) is a national movement of young people in long-term recovery, with a vision that states "we envision a world where we don't have to bury any more of our friends due to drugs and alcohol." The movement is united at all levels to empower young people to find and sustain recovery. Members use their voices and lived experiences to educate, advocate and collaborate. YPR's goals include establishing chapters, having national ambassadors in every state, securing funding for an executive director, formalizing partnerships with other organizations, and developing trainings to provide to young people across the country.

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YPR is currently a group of 21 united leaders from all over the U.S. who are paving the way and nurturing the movement. YPR's roots date to the 2010 Joint Meeting on Adolescent Treatment Effectiveness (JMATE), where 40 young people were brought together for the Young People's National Dialogue on Recovery sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). They were given the opportunity to talk about the issues that young people are challenged with when trying to gain access to treatment for substance abuse and to And their own paths to recovery.

A follow-up to this dialogue occurred in July 2011, hosted by the Association of Recovery Schools and SAMHSA. It was at this meeting that the idea of YPR was conceived. Since then, some of the participants from the 2011 meeting continued to stay in touch with one another and have met at various events, conferences and workshops. These selfless leaders have dedicated a large portion of their time and energy to the betterment of the recovery community. From conference calls that go on until midnight, to long chains of e-mail exchanges and Facebook messages, to balancing homework and careers with YPR projects, this group has begun to build a strong foundation. YPR believes this collaboration will prove to be a game-changer for young people in recovery everywhere.

YPR feels strongly about its ability to affect the larger substance abuse treatment system through its members' lived experiences. After going through an array of different types of treatment and emerging on the other side as successful, productive young people maintaining long-term recovery, YPR's members are a living, breathing data set. YPR members are frequently asked, "How did you do it? What worked for you? How can we transfer your success to other young people?"

Members' experiences

Four members of YPR were asked to share their experiences in treatment centers and their thoughts on what worked and did not work. Some received treatment in adolescent facilities and others spent time in adult facilities. Some were in six-month residential treatment programs, while others attended 28-day programs. However, one thing chat stands out as a universal truth for these individuals is that each went through treatment multiple times.

Each individual liked the fact that treatment offered an outlet to meet with other individuals who were struggling with substance use disorders and seeking recovery. One downside to this was that most YPR members were not among other clients in their age group. YPR member Alison Carlin says that she would have benefited from being around others in her age range and that "most other clients were as old as my parents."

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Peer-to-peer support services would allow young people in treatment centers to relate to those who have been in a similar situation, as well as to meet peers who have made recovery a reality. …