Addressing Substance Use in Childhood, Adolescence, and Young Adulthood

  • Ann Bruner
  • Marc FishmanEmail author


Substance use and substance use disorder (SUD) are typically developmental problems of pediatric onset. Earlier initiation of substance use predicts a greater likelihood of the progression to a SUD, the severity of the SUD, persistence into adulthood, and a poorer prognosis. Conversely, early intervention predicts an earlier and more favorable response and a better prognosis. Addressing substance use in young persons with developmentally informed approaches should be a core competency for youth-serving providers. Education and prevention for those who have not yet used can prevent initiation, and screening for use, case identification, referral, and treatment can all prevent progression to more advanced stages of substance use. This is analogous to practice in other potentially chronic health conditions. There are core approaches that are applicable for addressing substance use in youth in general across childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood, as well as other approaches that have more specific salience at each of these developmental stages. Fostering open communication and promoting ongoing engagement are especially important. Understanding confidentiality, and also its limitations, is essential for providers. There is also great benefit to providing guidance for parents and caregivers around attitudes, modeling, monitoring, and supervision.


SUD Prevention Youth Early intervention Adolescent Parent Young adult 


  1. 1.
    Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. Behavioral health trends in the United States: results from the 2014 national survey on drug use and health. 2015; (HHS Publication No. SMA 15-4927, NSDUH Series H-50). Accessed 7 Aug 2018.
  2. 2.
    The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University. National survey of American attitudes on substance abuse XV: teens and parents. 2010. Accessed 7 Aug 2018.
  3. 3.
    The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University. National survey of American attitudes on substance abuse XVI: teens and parents. 2011. Accessed 7 Aug 2018.
  4. 4.
    Dennis ML, Scott CK, Funk R, Foss MA. The duration and correlates of addiction and treatment careers. J Subst Abus Treat. 2005;28(Supplement 1):S51–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Results from the 2010 national survey on drug use and health: summary of national findings. 2011; NSDUH series H-41, HHS publication no. (SMA) 11-4658. Accessed 7 Aug 2018.
  6. 6.
    Johnston LD, O’Malley PM, Miech RA, Bachman JG, Schulenberg JE. Monitoring the future national survey results on drug use, 1975–2016: overview, key findings on adolescent drug use. Ann Arbor: Institute for Social Research/The University of Michigan; 2017.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Vital signs: alcohol poisoning deaths—United States, 2010–2012. Accessed 7 Aug 2018.

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Maryland Treatment CentersBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryJohns Hopkins University School of MedicineBaltimoreUSA

Personalised recommendations