A new study by Case Western Reserve has shown that social activities may help with relapse prevention from teen substance abuse. The right social activities can help addicted teens recover and make a successful transition back into the real world. The study was performed by Maria Pagano, Ph.D., a professor of psychiatry, and it involved a group of around 200 teens who had been admitted for residential substance abuse treatment in the northeastern part of the USA. The adolescents involved in the study had displayed moderate to severe social anxiety issues for a year or more before the teen substance abuse started. Around 42% of the participants studied admitted to severe social fears, and around 15% of the study participants met the criteria for a diagnosis of social anxiety disorder.
Professor Pagano discussed the study on relapse prevention and teen substance abuse, saying “Drinking and drug use relieved a pervasive sense of not fitting in for many youths addicted to alcohol and illicit drugs, and hypersensitivity to criticism is common. The incidence of higher rates of heroin use among young adults living in this region is distressing. A sense of belonging is important to live sober and to thrive, and 12-step service offers a venue for those impaired by social anxiety. Low-intensity service is a more gentle way for youths to feel like they belong and to connect with other people who are facing similar challenges. Getting active in helping others through AA motivates them to stay long enough to benefit from other AA activities and increase their chances of turning their life around toward a positive life trajectory.”