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Opinion & Essays - Jun, 1993 Issue #22 

Robert Schwebel, Ph.D.
Tucson, AZ (602)622-5437
By: Linda Shaffer

Just saying "no" to alcohol and other drugs is often developmentally just not possible for a lot of teenagers, says Dr. Robert Schwebel, associated with Desert Hills Center for Youth and Families in Tucson.

Schwebel, a psychologist, has designed and copyrighted a program called The Seven Challenges to address AOD issues when some of the 12-step approach, he feels, may be beyond the reach of an adolescent's development.

Schwebel's main concern is that teens often learn to compliantly agree with practitioners and counselors while "confined" somewhere in residential or hospital treatment only to resume alcohol and other drug (AOD) use upon their completion of the program. He agrees with researchers whose studies indicate that people who successfully break addictions pass through 5 phases: precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action and maintenance. This process allows a person to think it all through for themselves with the guidance of some counselors and "reach their own wise conclusions."

The Seven Challenges Group is a peer group to help teens challenge themselves and each other to think clearly about their alcohol and drug issues and to make good decisions. The program, with its group exercises developed by Schwebel , is now being used at Desert Hills and in several high schools in Tucson.

Challenging Ourselves and Each Other

CHALLENGE ONE: We decided to open up and talk honestly about alcohol and other drugs (AODs).

CHALLENGE TWO: We looked at why we were using alcohol and other drugs (AODs).

CHALLENGE THREE: We looked at our AOD use to see if it had caused harm, or could cause harm.

CHALLENGE FOUR: We faced our problems and took a hard look at our own responsibility, and the responsibility of others.

CHALLENGE FIVE: We thought about where we seemed to be headed, where we wanted to go, and what we wanted to accomplish.

CHALLENGE SIX: We made thoughtful decisions about our AOD use.

CHALLENGE SEVEN: We kept an open mind to look at our lives and our AOD decisions. If we saw problems we went back to earlier challenges, repeated them, and mastered them.

Copyright 1993, Woodbury Reports, Inc. (This article may be reproduced without prior approval if the copyright notice and proper publication and author attribution accompanies the copy.)

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