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Prevention in Youth

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     Almost all addicted adults began their problematic substance use during adolescence, a period of life when the brain is highly malleable, and when the neurological systems responsible for self-control and foresight are not fully developed. Preventing the onset of addictive substance use in young people is thus a major goal of policymakers and the public. SNAP disseminates evidence-based policies that reduce young people’s exposure to addictive substances and increase their capacities to grow into healthy, happy adults.

Extended interview transcripts


Scope of the Problem:

Those who initiate drug use (tobaccoalcoholmarijuanaopioidsstimulants) at a young age are more likely to experience problems later with that drug or others.

Although smoking tobacco is at a historic low among U.S. teenagers, their prevalence of vaping nicotine has increased significantly.

About 1 in 7 twelfth graders has consumed five or more alcoholic drinks in a row at least once in the past two weeks.

Heavy substance use among adolescents raises the risk of school dropout, psychological problems, sexually transmitted diseases, and teen pregnancy.

Challenges in Policy and Practice:

Treatment services for addicted adolescents are in short supply throughout the country.

Many widely employed prevention programs for youth show little evidence of effectiveness. Meanwhile, programs with stronger evidence of effectiveness often go unused.

Fewer than 20% of adolescents with substance use disorders are identified by medical providers. 

Tax and pricing policies for marijuana and alcohol don’t often consider that adolescents are price sensitive and that higher costs might reduce adverse public health impact