It is important that parents, families, health care providers, educators, and other community members understand and explicitly tell children and teens that the healthiest choice is to not use any drugs, including alcohol, nicotine and marijuana. When youth are using substances, it is important to intervene as early as possible. 

Parents and caregivers are often in the best position to intervene. An important part of intervention is getting an evaluation from a medical professional, to determine if treatment is needed. Health care providers also have the opportunity to identify substance use and intervene by regularly screening their patients using validated risk assessment tools and explicitly encourage their patients to refrain from the use of alcohol, nicotine, marijuana and other drugs for their health.


Finding treatment — whether for your teen, a loved one or yourself — for a substance use disorder can be overwhelming. Not all treatment programs have a stated goal of abstinence. Some consider reduced substance use to be a success; however, any amount of substance use is unhealthy for teens, and any amount of substance use makes relapse more likely. Quality treatment for adolescents has a goal of long-term recovery which includes abstinence from all drug use. 

It is important to understand that treatment does not “fix” or “cure” a person from a substance use disorder. Treatment is the first step in the long process of achieving recovery. Many people who successfully complete treatment return to substance use or relapse. After treatment, and even during treatment, there are many events and challenges that may tempt a person to resume substance use. It is important that people with substance use disorders have the support of friends and family after treatment and strong recovery support.

Back to Top ↑