Adolescent Substance Abuse: CTYF and What's Working for Young People in Recovery

adolescent-substance-abuse-recovery-CTYF-logoMy name's Greg Williams. I'm a young person who's been in long-term recovery since age 17 from alcohol and other drugs. Whenever I tell my story, I always say, “I was whoever I thought my friends wanted me to be.” Throughout my teenage years, my human need for belonging drove me to conform to peer groups around me.

Now I'm in recovery, and like everyone else, I still need to belong, but I'm able to satisfy that need in a much healthier and positive way: my peer group helps to validate and support my recovery. In addition to attending support groups or social events with me, they stay connected with me through online networks. 
That lesson hasn't been lost on us at Connecticut Turning to Youth and Families (CTYF). We've decided to meet young people where they are and have embarked on creating a positive social network to empower the youth and family recovery community, using online tools. What we've found is inspiring!
We all know that today's youth face tremendous pressures and risks every day for developing alcohol and other drug problems -- or managing their recovery from them. By connecting youth to youth offering positive peer-to-peer support, we can play a key role in helping young people make connections with new people, places, and things to rebuild their lives. 
Furthermore, youth often face real challenges accessing recovery help that's culturally competent to their needs. By using social media, we can make finding and accessing culturally appropriate peer-to-peer recovery supports a little easier. Social media are not the only solution, but they're important tools for disseminating information and broadening the engagement of culturally- and geographically-diverse youth and families.
Our model at CTYF emerged from partnerships between youth and families learning about the stages of recovery together through their own lived experiences. Their videos, stories, blogs, chats and events -- some of which you can see on our website -- are a testament to the power of uncovering existing recovery assets across our state.
Considering doing something similar in your community? Check us out online, or drop me an email; we're always glad to help others organizing to address adolescent substance abuse.
Greg Williams is Co-Director of CTYF. He will be speaking as part of Faces and Voices Of Recovery 2009 Teleconference Series Young People in Recovery: Recovery Schools and other Supports (follow the link to register). You can dial in on August 18, 2009, at 12pm-1pm PST/3pm - 4pm EDT.

Updated: March 21 2018