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Thursday, June 10, 2010

A Love Fest for the Young and Sober

For parents looking for a place their teens can go, share their issues with alcohol and find support without judgment, I would highly recommend The International Conference of Young People in Alcoholics Anonymous. I went to their annual meeting in Atlanta in 2009, sat in on many of the sessions, and interviewed members.

While there are many ICYPAA members in their late teens and twenties there are many older people too. The bond: They all began drinking young and now form an enormous support group that openly embraces all comers.

I'm not supposed to talk specifically about what happened in individual sessions, but I can tell you that people got up and told gut wrenching stories about their alcoholism and how they are addressing it. The meeting was one of the most positive, supportive places I've ever been - a love fest for the sober.

They were still kids too - parties went late into the night but instead of alcohol there was juice, cookies and a great deal of dancing and karaoke. The four days were filled with meetings for those ensconced in AA's 12 Steps, and if attendees choose to, they coul literally go to meetings all day long.

Like AA for older folks, attendees only use their first names and last initial. One of the highlights: ICYPAA is growing in strength around the world, and there are now members groups forming in Europe, Asia and a some other places.

The meetings are well organized and include a bidding process for the next one that pits supporters of cities against each other in friendly rivalry.

The next ICYPAA meeting will be held in Manhattan's Times Square October 26-29th, 2010. For information go to http://www.icypaahost.org/

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