For some teens and young adults, bullying and peer pressure don’t stop when the bell rings. A new group called Breakout is offering a judgement free zone, with a focus on recovery and teen support, for ages 12 to 21 at 6:30 p.m. every Tuesday at Boogies, 412 N. Prairieville in Athens.

It’s hard to grow up in today’s world, we know,” said Andy Arnold, group founder. “The stress of trying to please everyone and trying to figure out who you are is overwhelming! Don’t you wish you had somebody who will listen to you without judging you for anything you say, that understands, and that will help you figure out how to deal with it?”

For those struggling with drugs, alcohol, depression, self-harm, porn, loneliness, peer pressure, self-esteem, identity issues, bullying, or anything else, this group wants to offer a place to talk about it.

We mainly help with addiction, but really any issues kids have,” Arnold said. “Just navigating adolescence. Dealing with depression and self harm, eating disorders.”

The group was founded after Arnold, who is a counselor at Sundown Ranch, a rehab for teens, saw a need for a youth recovery group.

They were scared to go to meetings with adults and wouldn’t open up,” Arnold said. “ It is imperative they can open up and share their real emotions and questions.”

So Breakout consists of other young people who are living with the same struggles and believe they have found a better way through peer support.

We have a team of qualified adults at each meeting and make ourselves available to the kids one on one and anytime they need somebody to talk to without fear of getting in trouble or being judged,” said Arnold. “We welcome anyone and show them hope and a better way.”

Arnold stated confidentiality is respected. The group also has meetings at 6:30 p.m. at the First Baptist Church in Poynor and at the same time Fridays at First Christian Church in Tyler.

If you are looking for this kind of support group, contact Jana at 936-488-9252, Andy 903-477-1266 or Melissa 903-216-0912 for more information.

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