Adolescents who face their addictions are old beyond their years. Many adults have yet to confront the illness of alcoholism.

Leanne Josephson's profile of Astoria teenagers in Friday's edition was both touching and encouraging. Josephson's story was about the youth Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous groups which Judge Paula Brownhill was instrumental in starting.

Teenage addicts who were sentenced to attending AA meetings found them to be not a good fit. They felt like outsiders in a group that puts a premium on inclusion. Thus it made good sense to create New Beginnings, which is AA and NA groups for youth up to age 20.

Alcoholics Anonymous is one of the most significant cultural and medical developments of the 20th century. AA is the only proven recourse for alcoholics. If you browse the literature of alcoholism, you learn how primitive were the pre-AA approaches to the disease. In The Thirsty Muse: Alcohol and the American Writer, Tom Dardis describes the remedies that were tried on five of America's greatest writers who were alcoholics.

Addiction is a lifelong burden. It is also making itself apparent much sooner these days in the lives of young people.

The intelligent response to this new social problem is the proven structure of AA. Judge Brownhill was wise to aid in the creation of New Beginnings.


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