Treating Illicit Drug & Opioid Use in Youth and Young Adults

Substance use disorders do not discriminate based on age, and young adults are no exception. In 2017, 2.4 million youth aged 18–25 had an illicit drug use disorder, and 2.5 million youth reported having misused opioids in the past year. Most people with substance use disorders are likely to have a co-occurring serious mental illness, such as post-traumatic stress disorder or depression.  

This two-page fact sheet, developed by the Program to Achieve Wellness, urges care providers to take action to identify young adults with substance use disorders and ensure that care provided is sensitive to their unique needs. 

In this context, care providers include medical, mental health, and substance use treatment professionals. Providers are urged to incorporate substance use screening and planning appropriate interventions into their regular care. In addition, screening patients for a co-occurring serious mental illness is important in the treatment process, especially if providers choose to refer the patient to medication-assisted treatment. During the treatment process, patient activation through education and involvement of parents or caregivers can improve treatment outcomes and result in sustained behavioral changes.  

This resource was first shared in 2018. 

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