Each year in the United States, as many as two million youth experience homelessness. Estimates reveal that between 39 and 70 percent of these homeless youth also abuse alcohol or drugs. There are some substance abuse initiatives aimed at reaching these groups, such as therapy and addiction treatment. One team of researchers are also studying the use of AI and social networks for these youth.
Homeless Youth and Addiction
Transitioning from youth to adulthood can be a significant challenge that is full of mental, physical, and social changes. When young people do not have the home or financial support they need, they may find themselves without their basic needs being met, including food and shelter. Some homeless youth face challenges such as lack of support, violence, poverty, addicted parents, and mental illness. Many of these young people turn to drugs or alcohol to self-medicate or cope when living on the streets.
Using AI and Social Networks for Addiction Treatment
Many homeless youth abuse drugs and alcohol, but there are some who want to get help and find recovery. This presents its own set of challenges considering the environment that these youth live in and the potential negative influences that exist. When you get sober, having positive social influences is essential.
A group of researchers from the USC Center for Artificial Intelligence Society created an artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm that will sort these voluntary participants in an intervention program. The algorithm’s goal is to classify participants into smaller subgroups and break any social connection that it considers might be detrimental to a person’s recovery.
Addicts and youth are easily influenced, and this is particularly the case in early recovery. Who a person in recovery has as their friends can have a significant impact on their rate of success in staying away from drugs and alcohol. This particular project stated an understanding of the ways that a support tool could help someone in recovery as well as exacerbate problems.
Support is vital in an addiction recovery environment, but it is also possible that peer groups can have a negative impact on one another by encouraging antisocial behavior. Social work refers to this as “deviancy training,” when a peer reinforces other undesirable, or deviant, behavior in another. Using AI, this application looks at how peers are connected and their history before making decisions about maintaining, severing, or creating new connections.
Why Social Networks Are Not a Replacement for Traditional Treatment
The abuse of drugs and alcohol, even by youth, tends to take an individual away from life. Before you know it, you are isolated, even when you are in an environment that is crowded with people. While technology has the ability to connect you with others who are also struggling to recover, it is not as authentic and integrated as the face-to-face interaction that is necessary for real recovery and growth.
The inclination to remain locked away in your own world may be strong, but you need other people in your circle to recover, and there are plenty who would like to see you get well. Social networks may have their place, but so does a comprehensive addiction treatment program and live support group. Contact The Recovery Village now to speak with one of our addiction specialists about how we can tailor a compassionate addiction treatment program to fit your needs.