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Full Circle: Maintaining Enthusiastic Sobriety for Teens

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What’s the best way to help teens stay interested in a sobriety program? One local nonprofit says it’s to use a concept called Enthusiastic Sobriety. Full Circle, a 12-step substance abuse program specializing in teens, uses the concept of Enthusiastic Sobriety to engage and retain the teenagers through their recovery journey. Teen alcohol and drug abuse is at an all-time high, experts say, and this philosophy is an especially compelling program for this age group.

“For any teenager to get sober and stay that way, they have to find something that is more attractive than alcohol or drugs. The Enthusiastic Sobriety concept at Full Circle emphasizes the fun,” said Nick RebHolz, program coordinator for the nonprofit Full Circle, which operates out of Christ the King School at 8510 Wornall Road, Kansas City, Missouri.

This philosophy has been adopted by several local substance abuse programs with a lot of success. The bottom line is that young people will stop their self-destructive behavior only if they are offered an alternative that is both fun and fulfilling. 

“Full Circle works very hard to provide an outlet for teenagers to be themselves,” said Nick, who struggled with addictions and participated in a similar program when he was 17. Today, he has been sober for seven years and is the lead counselor for Full Circle in Kansas City. Featuring young counselors is one of the main attractions for teens in the Full Circle program. “When I was 17, choosing to get sober was the biggest risk I ever took. I worried about what people were going to think of me. So I recognize that this is especially difficult as a teenager.”

First, Full Circle provides a young and enthusiastic counseling staff at no charge to those in the community who are struggling with alcohol, drugs and even other addictions such as pornography, eating disorders and gambling. Full Circle’s only requirements for participation are a willingness to grow mentally, emotionally and spiritually, and a commitment to abstain from all alcohol, drugs and any other self-destructive actions or behaviors. Nick says perfection is not a requirement, but commitment and willingness are essential.

Peer support is critical to the success of an Enthusiastic Sobriety program. Teens cannot be expected to attend only one hour-long meeting a week and find results. At Full Circle, participants are expected to attend a minimum of two individual or group counseling guidance meetings per week along with group social functions that are scheduled every weekend. The atmosphere the kids enjoy at these events is what provides the support and fun to retain their participation through the recovery.

And the final significant part of the program is the parental support. “Everyone must work the program. Parents can’t expect to send their kids away to rehab and hope that they come back fixed. This program includes counseling for the parents right alongside the kids. We’ve been working on our own issues, learning to build a relationship with the kids and working to understand how to let go,” said a Kansas City area parent whose son is participating in an Enthusiastic Sobriety program.

Most importantly, Full Circle is a nonprofit organization that facilitates support and activities for youth, young adults and their family members at no cost to participants. This free program raises money, like most nonprofits, through donations from the local community, corporate partners and foundations. Donations can be made at the organization’s website and information is also posted on the Facebook page.

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