Adolescent substance abuse affects all of us. Accidents, illness, high school drop out and violence related to substance use are costly. The good news is that prevention and treatment are very effective -- and research is producing better treatments for adolescent substance abuse and addiction.
Here are some ways to help address the problems of youth substance use, abuse and addiction:
- Educate yourself and people you know about adolescent substance use. Valid information for parents, teachers and teens is available at the National Institute of Drug Abuse’s (NIDA) website: www.drugabuse.gov. NIDA’s mission is “to bring the power of science to bear on drug abuse and addiction,” and NIDA is the largest sponsor of addiction research in the world.
Christian Thurstone, medical director of the STEP Program, frequently speaks to community groups, schools, policymakers, elected officials and an array of nonprofit organizations nationwide. To invite him to speak, please email him.
- Advocate for youth. Teens have developing brains that are more susceptible to addiction and more vulnerable to the harmful effects of substances than do adults, whose brains are fully mature. Many people are profiting from the exploitation of adolescents’ vulnerability to addiction. We, as a community, can significantly reduce teen substance use through advocacy that strictly limits young people’s access to substances, encourages and promotes negative views and attitudes about substance use and provides activities that encourage kids to channel their energy and interests into positive endeavors.
Locally, the Denver Drug Strategy Commission and the Colorado chapter of Drug Endangered Children provide important information and resources.
Nationally, groups such as Educating Voices and Partnership for Drug Free America provide important advocacy to protect youth from the effects of addiction.
- Donate. STEP was started with a generous donation from the Daniels Fund. The top-quality, individual, integrated care that STEP provides costs more than typical adolescent substance treatment. Such care would not be possible without generous, ongoing donations from our supporters. Contact the Denver Health Foundation for more information about how to donate to STEP.