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Were We Ever That Young?

Were We Ever That Young?

Robert J.Ackerman PhD

Welcome to this special issue of Counselor on adolescents and young adults. It hasn’t been very long in western thought that the period of adolescence was a unique time in human development. Prior to 150 or 200 years ago, it was believed that children and adolescents were adults in small bodies. It was believed that their thought processes, emotions, reasoning skills, intellectual abilities, wants, and needs were the same as adults. Obviously, we have changed our thinking.

Adolescence is a unique time in everyone’s life. Some of us can look back on our own adolescence as a time of adventure or being carefree. Others might remember high school years, dating and relationships, and sports, while still others might remember turmoil in their lives and in their families. It was a time when we guarded the dysfunction in our family to extremes because we did not want our “reputation” spoiled. Some of us found ourselves defending the very behaviors that offended us because, after all, they were family. 

To a certain degree adolescents today and our own adolescence are similar. At the same time, however, they are very different. There are many more things in America today to become addicted to. There are societal changes and social pressures that are more intense than what we experienced. Various research findings indicate that some of the greatest problems or challenges for today’s adolescent include such things as eating disorders; body image and self-esteem; physical, sexual, and emotional abuse; pregnancy; internet addiction; mood disorders; attention deficit disorders; bullying; stress; drinking and drugging; and the eternal challenge of peer pressure.

This special edition focuses on many of these problems. 

  • William White discusses the rise of recovery community organizations. 
  • Brad Reedy writes about the field of wilderness theory. 
  • Matthew T. Lee presents a study about teens, spirituality, and recovery. 
  • David E. Smith and his colleagues provide insight into cannabis use and adolescent recovery, 
  • We have a special interview with Reid Wilson and Lynn Lyons on their new book, Anxious Parents, Anxious Kids.  
  • We have the first adapted article from the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment by Emily E. Tanner-Smith that focuses on a literature review of adolescents and outpatient treatment for substance abuse.

Finally, we are very excited to introduce a new column, “Substance Abuse in Teens,” by Fred Dyer. His writings, research, and presentations about teenagers has brought him national acclaim and we look forward to working with him and reading his new column.

I hope you enjoy this special issue.

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Formerly Professor of Sociology at the University of South Carolina, Beaufort. Dr. Ackerman is a co-founder of the National Association for Children of Alcoholics and the Chair, Advisory Board of COUNSELOR: The Magazine for Addiction Professionals. He has published numerous articles and research findings and is best known for writing the first book in the United States on children of alcoholics. Twelve books later, many television appearances, and countless speaking engagements, he has become internationally known for his work with families and children of all ages. His books have been translated into thirteen languages.