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Many young adults entering treatment for an addiction want to change, but don’t have the skills, confidence or commitment to do so without help, a new study suggests.

The study concludes young people can gain the skills and confidence through treatment, PsychCentral reports. The researchers followed 303 young adults, ages 18 to 24, who attended a 12-step-based residential treatment program for alcohol or drug addiction. They measured the levels of change in areas including motivation, coping skills, self-confidence, psychological distress and commitment to participating in support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).

In the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, the researchers write that study participants were very motivated to remain abstinent at the beginning of the study, but scored low in coping skills, self-confidence and commitment to attending support groups. Three months after treatment ended, all of these measures improved. These changes during treatment were associated with abstinence from alcohol or other drug use to varying degrees three months after treatment ended.

“The young people in our study were quite motivated to do well in treatment but lacked the confidence, coping skills and commitment to AA that are critical to longer-term success,” study co-author Valerie Slaymaker, PhD, of The Butler Center for Research at Hazelden, said in a news release. “Treatment appears to work by increasing their confidence and ability to make and sustain healthy, recovery-related efforts.”


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