The use of 12-step programs by adolescents with a history of drug and alcohol abuse reduces the risk of relapse, as well as lowering health care costs, according to research from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. According to Newswise.com, the study appears in the journal of Drug and Alcohol Dependence, examining the cost of 12-step programs for adolescents.
Researchers studied 403 participants between the ages of 13 and 18 enrolled in a drug and alcohol treatment program, following their progress for seven years.
Dr. Marlon Mundt, assistant professor of family medicine, claims that for each 12-step meeting attended by an adolescent medical costs were reduced by 4.7%, totaling to $145 per year for hospital inpatient stays, psychiatric visits, and substance abuse treatment. He said, "What is important to remember is that while the exact mechanism of the effect is not known, 12-step is linked to better health, and as a result, lower costs in teenagers with a history of substance abuse."
Tweleve step programs were first established by Alcoholics Anonymous in 1939, offering meetings for alcoholics who wanted to stay sober. The concept has extended to include drug abuse, in programs like Narcotics Anonymous.
Dr. Mundt said, "Our findings suggest that in addition to providing support for their sobriety, 12-step participation may also help adolescents meet their physical and mental recovery needs by supplementing formal medical and psychiatric services. However, while 12-step participation may be an important complement to formal treatment, it should not be considered a substitute for needed formal psychiatric and alcohol or drug rehabilitation services, simply on the basis of cost."
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