How we can avoid some of the long-term social and public health impacts of addiction.
of adults with a substance use disorder began using before the age of 18.
Addiction is often an adolescent onset illness – 9 out of 10 adults with a substance use disorder began using before the age of 18. This fact has huge implications for prevention and early intervention: if we can delay the onset of heavy substance use among young people, we can avoid some of the long-term social and public health impacts of addiction.
Not only are adolescent brains more susceptible to addiction, they re more susceptible to other related trauma brought on by substance use. Increasingly, we have evidence that heavy alcohol and other drug use in adolescence can cause long-term damage to the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus.
In 2016, the United States Surgeon General released the seminal report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health: Facing Addiction in America. This comprehensive report concludes that several methods of substance use prevention, screening, and brief interventions are effective in lessening substance use with those deemed “at risk,” and that such practices are also highly cost-effective.
“ Successful prevention practices can and should be delivered to youth through as many avenues as possible.
Every dollar spent saves:
- $58 Evidenced based prevention practices can save $58 per dollar spent.
- $4 Addiction treatment saves $4 in healthcare costs.
- $7 in criminal justice costs.
Prevention practices are also highly cost-effective.
$442 billion spent annual on addiction.
While varying widely in focus and approaches, the most effective prevention programs work to boost protective factors and eliminate or reduce risk factors for alcohol and other drug use.
CHILDREN (ages 12 and under):
- Self-control and emotional awareness
- Communication and social problem solving
- Academic support
TEENS & YOUNG ADULTS:
- Providing structure or extracurricular activities such as community service, sports, clubs, arts, music, etc. These can take place both inside and outside of a school setting- the engagement in these activities is what is important.
- Academic support that encourages hard-work in school by providing resources to improve study habits and outcomes. Tutors can help with school work and motivating mentors can increase the individual’s self-efficacy.
- Coping strategies directed at interpersonal and external influences, with a focus on effective communication, improving peer-relationships, and self-confidence.
- Assertiveness trainings to reinforce and strengthen personal commitments against substance use.
- Early detection and screening
- Patient education
- Counseling and monitoring both before and after acute injury or surgery
- Alternative pain management options such as acupuncture, physical therapy, etc.
- Educational training on substance use and mechanisms and skills-based learning to foster healthy and enriching relationships.
- Coping strategies such as parental monitoring and boundary setting allow parents to engage children to prevent substance use.
This guide was developed with the guidance of the Recovery Research Institute. Please visit their site for more evidenced-based information on treatment and recovery.
“ Substance use and misuse becomes increasingly likely across adolescence