Teenage alcoholism has become a bigger and bigger problem as kids start drinking at early ages. It used to be the case that they did not really think that they could diagnose a teenager with alcoholism, because it was too early to tell for sure, but these days some teenagers are definitely identifying as addicts and alcoholics long before they hit their twenties. So it is not uncommon and teens are becoming alcoholic at very young ages.
The thing about treating addiction and alcoholism among youth is that we are still learning about what works and what does not. It used to be the case that we would take young teens and put them into group therapy and send them to 12 step meetings with other young people. Some extensive studies have been done over the years though, and these studies proved that the teens who received no treatment at all had far better outcomes that the teens who were put into treatment together. This is because at this young age, group therapy backfires and creates more problems than it solves. Essentially what happens is that the teens talk about drugs and alcohol too much and not about the solution. They then get together and use drugs and alcohol together instead of helping each other to remain clean and sober. They glorify drug use and do not embrace the solution together, which is sort of the idea behind adult group therapy and meetings.
There are several possible reasons for this. The first reason is that the teens are not desperate enough. If you take a look at the adults who find success in recovery and in treatment, they have generally hit “rock bottom” and are completely devastated. They are sick and tired and they are miserable. They know that to drink and to use drugs is misery. They know that they good times were over long ago.
The teens don’t know this yet, and were likely forced into treatment. They are not desperate to get sober like the battered adults are. They do not have the gift of desperation that is necessary to stay sober.
The other reason that group therapy works so poorly for younger people is due to the maturity level. They are still under a lot of peer pressure and it is just not that cool to be sober at such a young age. So in order to save face in front of each other, sobriety is shunned and drug and alcohol use is glorified.