Drug Use Among Youth and Young Adults


“By the 12th grade, about half of adolescents have misused an illicit drug at least once” according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Office of Population Affairs.   Drug use among teens and young adults have skyrocketed to epidemic proportions over the last few decades causing concern among parents, medical staff, and school officials.   The detrimental effects of drug usage can have enduring developmental and physical consequences and can result in young users being diagnosed with addiction and adult ailments such as heart disease.  

Many studies have provided detailed information on some of the factors that contribute to youth and young adults turning to illicit substances such as pressure from peers, boredom, a release from their current situation, and something as simple as curiosity. While these factors can be addressed with counseling along with parents and caregivers playing an active role in the recovery process, another issue that creates difficulty for providing treatment is the presence of a mental health disorder. Co-occurring disorders exists when a person suffers from both mental health and substance use issues.   According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “research suggests that adolescents with substance use disorders also have high rates of co-occurring mental illness; over 60 percent of adolescents in community-based substance use disorder treatment programs also meet diagnostic criteria for another mental illness”. For parents and caretakers of youth and young adults that are battling substance use and mental health illness, finding the appropriate and effective treatment along with resources can be an exhausting endeavor and a critical component to successful recovery.

Government agencies like the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) have implemented many initiatives aimed at specific populations that require prevention, treatment, and access to recovery support programs.  For example, SAMHSA established the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment’s (CSAT) Youth Initiative which focuses on strategies to augment and increase access to treatment, early intervention, and recovery support services for adolescents and young adults with mental health disorders, substance use and/or co-occurring substance use and their families.

To implement programs efficiently, SAMHSA gathers strategic partners to discuss key topics for effective treatment, recovery support approaches, and challenges that impede delivery of services. A-G Associates has supported SAMHSA and CSAT by convening a two-day policy academy for key stakeholders from all over the country to examine the current methods utilized by organizations to meet the needs of their clients and communities. A-G is dedicated to assisting SAMHSA with accomplishing their core mission of providing treatment and recovery services for individuals needing assistance. A-G’s role, whether providing event management support, facilitation or providing subject matter experts, has always been to deliver superior customer service to our clients and their targeted populations.   For information on A-G’s event management services and capabilities, please visit our website at www.a-gassociates.com.