An army of young advocates | Addiction Professional Magazine Skip to content Skip to navigation

An army of young advocates

October 29, 2012
by Sarah Nerad and Danielle Tarino
| Reprints
Young People in Recovery share what worked for them in treatment



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 experience to educate, advocate and collaborate. YPR’s current 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.

YPR currently is 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 find 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 that stands out as a universal truth for these individuals is that each went through treatment multiple times.