Expanding restorative justice and its relationship to adolescent substance recovery

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Wesley Long


Youth who are struggling with substance abuse issues and criminal behavior related to their addiction often times find themselves isolated and estranged from their families, peers, and communities. For this
study sample participants, once deciding to extricate themselves from a life of drugs and crime, these youth must attempt to reintegrate back into the families and communities they left behind or abandoned, whether
by choice or not, while using illicit drugs and involved in delinquent and criminal behavior. Successful reintegration, as well as successful treatment outcomes seems to be attached to a combination of Alcoholics
Anonymous 12 Steps and restorative justice precepts, specifically the encounter and amends process. This essay examined the accounts of seven youth who were seeking sobriety and recovery in an in-patient drug
treatment facility. Each discovered that an apology for harm and pain caused, an acceptance of this apology, and forgiveness for past transgressions by parents, family, significant others and the community at
large were factors that aided their ability to maintain their sobriety. Each also found that parental involvement and support was not only a catalyst for successful treatment outcomes, but also for successful
reintegration back into the family, school, and community.

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