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Substance Misuse in Adolescents

There is increasing evidence that substance misuse among British adolescents is escalating (Miller & Plant, 1996; Sutherland & Willner, 1998). Swadi (1992) found that, among adolescents aged 12–17 years referred to mental health services, the prevalence of drug use was 13.1% (16.3% among boys and 9.3% among girls).

Despite this relatively high prevalence, there are very few organised treatment services for adolescents in the UK. Instead, there is extensive emphasis on prevention even though there is no universal agreement on what prevention can achieve. This approach also overlooks the fact that a significant number of adolescents fail to respond to preventive measures in any form.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists