Drug Education News

News and views from the Drug Education Forum

Treatment for Adolescents?

Kathy Gyngell writing on the Centre for Policy Studies blog takes a look at treatment services (or the lack of them) for adolescents:

Although some drugs counsellors and youth workers I spoke to were keen to work therapeutically with the kids and their families the lead ‘intervention’ routinely listed was for something else – it was for ‘information and education for harm minimisation’. As I understand it this means showing children in how to use drugs safely while alerting them to dangers.  ‘Prescribing interventions’ – which is usually shorthand for prescribing subutex or methadone – and ‘support into prescribing treatment with adult services’ were also on most service lists as ‘key interventions’.

Together this suggests an acceptance not just of continuing adolescent drug use but also of it leading inevitably into adult problematic drug use.  The brutal truth is that the state is sanctioning starting under 18 year olds on methadone prescriptions with the implicit expectation that they will inexorably move into adult drug treatment services and substitute methadone prescribing.   This is a counsel of despair and makes the need to think beyond chemical therapy and harm minimisation for damaged and neglected adolescents an urgent one.  Mike Trace’s call for constructive early residential treatment must not go unheeded.

I don’t think I’m in a position to judge whether the field is pursuing the right interventions with young drug takers, our focus is after all on universal drug education, but certainly the last time we surveyed Drug and Alcohol Action Teams we found that Tier 4 services weren’t where resources were focused.


Filed under: treatment

One Response

  1. Strikes me as if Kathy has got it right, especially with her comments re NTA denial. The fact is that there is not a sufficiency of services for young people. Their drug use is sustained by lack of those services.

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