For the SBIRT model to work, an open and honest conversation must occur between a young person and practitioner. But for a population that cannot legally consume alcohol and may be using illegal drugs, honest disclosure poses risks. Confidentiality is huge.
Adolescents with substance abuse problems too often cannot access treatment unless they land in the juvenile justice system, experts say.
Relying on the justice system to treat substance abuse also means treatment is rooted in racial divisions, says Evan Elkin, national executive director of Reclaiming Futures. Youth of color are disproportionately represented in the juvenile justice system.
“We operate two public health systems in America. One is for people of color and one is for the white population. Public health is mediated through the justice system,” he said.
Adolescence is a time of growth and potential but also a time of risk-taking and experimentation with drugs and alcohol, which can quickly get out of hand. At no other time in human development is the risk for developing a substance use disorder so high. And the consequences of substance use disorders in youth are significant, cumulative, and far-reaching in human and financial terms.
People in recovery vividly recall their first experiences with drugs and alcohol as teenagers . . .
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April is Alcohol Awareness Month. Addressing misperceptions is important, because otherwise we run the risk of further perpetuating beliefs among young people that underage and binge drinking are the expectation rather the exception. There are steps communities can take to address underage and binge drinking at both a community and individual level.
We know that almost everyone who struggles with addiction began using substances before the age of 18. So, we need to talk about adolescent substance use, and we need to keep the conversation going. SBIRT is a systematic approach to addressing substance use in all kinds of settings.
One of the main reasons I ended up addicted to drugs and alcohol was anxiety. Now make no mistake, I suffer from the disease of addiction and would have ended up addicted one way or another. Anxiety helped spark the fuse in a big way, though.