SAMHSA Opioid Overdose Prevention Toolkit
Opioid Overdose Toolkit

Substance Abuse Caregiver Guide
INTRODUCTION: Youth with mental health conditions1 have an increased risk of developing a substance use disorder. Some youth who need services for substance use problems2 may have undiagnosed mental health conditions that are identified during treatment. Caregivers of youth with both mental health and substance use problems often face challenges in finding appropriate treatment. Caregivers of youth whose mental health conditions are discovered in substance use disorder treatment may discover that the treatment program cannot provide adequate mental health services
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Engaging Adolescents in Treatment
Clinicians who work with adolescents encounter a series of challenges when trying to engage youth who have histories of traumatic stress and substance abuse. Most adolescents do not enter treatment voluntarily and are often apprehensive about the process. Furthermore, substance abusing adolescents, much like their adult counterparts, often have a hard time making positive changes in their use patterns. To provide effective services, these challenges and barriers must be addressed.
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Using Drugs to Deal with Stress and Trauma
If you’ve been through a traumatic event and are suffering these kinds of reactions, you may be tempted to do almost anything to avoid such painful feelings. You may find yourself avoiding people, places, activities, or even thoughts that remind you of the traumatic experience. You may try to distract yourself by doing things that are risky or even harmful, like driving too fast, cutting or injuring yourself, or bingeing and purging. And—if you are like most people—you may try to shut out the pain by doing alcohol or drugs.
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Treatment for Youth with Traumatic Stress and Substance Abuse Problems
Few treatment providers are proficient in the multiple areas of need among youth with co-occurring disorders. Substance abuse providers, for example, may not have the tools necessary to identify the impact of trauma exposure, and may not have experience or training in using trauma-informed interventions. Trauma treatment specialists—and mental health providers in general—may overlook signs of increasing substance abuse. They may not have a deep understanding of the process of addiction, or may not be familiar with effective strategies to strengthen youths’ abilities to reduce use or abstain from substances, and therefore fail to target these problems as a central part of the intervention.
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Making the Connection: Trauma and Substance Abuse
Data from the most recent National Survey of Adolescents and other studies indicate that one in four children and adolescents in the United States experiences at least one potentially traumatic event before the age of 16, and more than 2% of 7-year-olds—one in eight—have experienced posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at some point in their lives.
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Preventing Mental, Emotional, and Behavioral Disorders Among Young People
This report builds on a highly valued predecessor, the 1994 Institute of Medicine (IOM) report entitled Reducing Risks for Mental Disorders: Frontiers for Preventive Intervention Research. That report provided the basis for understanding prevention science, elucidating its then-existing research base, and contemplating where it should go in the future. This report documents that an increasing number of mental, emotional, and behavioral problems in young people are in fact preventable. The proverbial ounce of prevention will indeed be worth a pound of cure: effectively applying the evidence-based prevention interventions at hand could potentially save billions of dollars in associated costs by avoiding or tempering these disorders in many individuals. Furthermore, devoting significantly greater resources to research on even more effective prevention and promotion efforts, and then reliably implementing the findings of such research, could substantially diminish the human and economic toll. This could be done, but as Hadorn1 has observed, the basic tendency is to focus on “the rule of rescue . . . the powerful human proclivity to rescue endangered life.” As a society, we suffer from a collective health care myopia: we have not yet figured out how to balance rescue—which is after-the-fact treatment—with the less dramatic but often far more cost-effective and socially desirable prevention of the onset of a problem.
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Principles of Adolescent Substance Use Disorder Treatment: A Research-Based Guide
Message from the Director
Since its first edition in 1999, NIDA’s Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment has been a widely used resource for health care providers, families, and others needing information on addiction and treatment for people of all ages. But recent research has greatly advanced our understanding of the particular treatment needs of adolescents, which are often different from those of adults. I thus am very pleased to present this new guide, Principles of Adolescent Substance Use Disorder Treatment, focused exclusively on the unique realities of adolescent substance use—which includes abuse of illicit and prescription drugs, alcohol, and tobacco—and the special treatment needs for people aged 12 to 17.
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CMCS Informational Bulletin: Prevention and Early Identification of Mental Health and Substance Use Conditions
The Medicaid program provides coverage to 27 million children under age 18 in the United States. A core component of this coverage is the Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment (EPSDT) benefit, which ensures that the health care needs of children and youth are addressed to maximize their growth and development. Prevention and early identification of health conditions, which is a key component of EPSDT, promotes positive health outcomes and can reduce health care costs across an individual’s lifespan. The Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services (CMCS) is issuing this Informational Bulletin to help inform states about resources available to help them meet the needs of children under EPSDT, specifically with respect to mental health and substance use disorder services.
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Recognizing Drug Use in Adolescents – A Quick Guide for Caregivers and Adults
Concerned caregivers and adults play an important role in ensuring that youth receive adequate help. However, at times it is hard to tell that youth are developing a problem with alcohol and drugs. This guide summarizes the signs of intoxication, use, and abuse commonly reported by substance users. It is important to recognize, however, that some of the behaviors and experiences described in this booklet may also be present among adolescents who are not using substances. For this reason, when deciding on the best course of action to obtain help for your teenager, make sure to talk with your teenager, gather as much information as possible, and consult with health professionals available in your community.
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NIDA for Teens:  The Science behind Drug Abuse
This website targets adolescents and teens, offering facts and information on drug use and abuse in an interactive and engaging manner to reduce drug use and inform teens how drugs affect their health.
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The CBHSQ Report: A Day in the Life of American Adolescents: Substance Use Facts Update
This CBHSQ Report presents facts about adolescent substance use, including information on the initiation of substance use, past year substance use, emergency department visits, and receipt of substance use treatment. The data presented are from the 2010 and 2011 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health (NSDUHs), the 2010 Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS), the 2010 National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services (N-SSATS), and the 2011 Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN).
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Brief Interventions and Brief Therapies for Substance Abuse - Quick Guide for Clinicians
This quick guide describes brief intervention and brief therapy techniques for treatment of alcohol abuse and drug abuse, including brief cognitive-behavioral, strategic/ interactional, humanistic and existential, psychodynamic, family, and time-limited group therapies. It was developed by SAMHSA in September 2015 and is available for download or hard copy.
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