Psychological Intervention for Adolescent Substance Abuse

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Williams, Robert J.
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Most adolescent substance abusers neither seek out nor receive formal treatment for their substance abuse. Despite this, most adolescent substance abusers eventually curb their substance use by their mid to late 20’s (Fillmore, 1988; Kandel and Raveis, 1989; Labouvie, 1996; Pape and Hammer, 1996). One explanation for this concerns the nature of the teenage years that encourages experimentation with a wide variety of behaviours, including substance use. This need for rebellion and experimentation is not as strong for someone in their late 20’s. Another explanation concerns the process of ‘‘natural recovery’’, where individuals simply identify and rectify their problems themselves (Burman, 1997; Granfield & Cloud, 1999). Sometimes overlooked are the ‘‘interventions’’ contributing to this phenomenon. Environmental pressures are usually involved when people decide to make important changes in their life. There are pervasive influences operating in the environments of almost all adolescent substance abusers discouraging substance use. Anti-drug messages are prevalent in the media, in school, and often in family and peer contexts. The problems that sometimes occur because of substance use (parental conflict, peer conflict, school problems, physical sequelae, employment consequences) provide further inducement for change. The new roles that develop in the mid to late 20’s (jobs, marriage, parenting) are other things that tend to conflict with continued substance use (Kandel and Raveis, 1989; Labouvie, 1996). Thus, it is important to recognize that ‘‘interventions’’ for adolescent substance abuse are pervasive. And, for the most part, they can be said to be effective. It is a continuum between these types of environmental pressures and formal treatment programs. Somewhat intermediate are meetings an adolescent may have with his/her school counselor or family physician, or attendance at drop-in group counseling sessions provided in many high schools for substance use and abuse (Wagner, Brown, Monti, Myers and Waldron, 1999).
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Substance Abuse Youth , Substance Abuse Treatment
Williams, R. J. (2002). Psychological intervention for adolescent substance abuse. In C. Essau (Ed.), Substance Abuse and Dependence in Adolescence (pp. 185-201). New York: Taylor & Francis.