According to the Office of Mental Health, less than half of adolescents who need mental health services receive them. Since one in five has a diagnosable mental health disorder, we have a lot of work to do to meet the needs of this underserved population. Add to this the facts that 40% of high school seniors reported drinking alcohol, 15% acknowledged using marijuana and about half abused illicit drugs (including prescription drugs) by the twelfth grade. As we know, teenagers are at particular risk of alcoholism and drug addiction, more so than adults in their early twenties are, because the frontal lobes of teens’ brains are not yet fully developed.
Adolescents differ from adults both physiologically and emotionally and require treatment adapted to their needs. The onset of substance use is occurring at younger ages, resulting in more adolescents and young adults entering treatment for substance use disorders than in the past. Statistics show that teens age 12–17 had the highest rate of abuse or addiction at 60.6% compared to 37.4% of young adults age 18–25, and 24.3% for those older than 26.
To treat addiction in adolescents and young adults effectively, treatment providers must target various components—including cognitive, emotional, physical and social development, while also addressing the family and peer environment. Therefore, the youth of today present a unique challenge to treatment professionals.
This special issue of Counselor is devoted to providing you with useful information and current trends for the treatment of addiction and other behavioral problems adolescents and young adults face. Our youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow and we need an extensive toolbox of resources to help them embrace recovery and live joyous and happy lives free from the throes of addiction.
We are hopeful this issue of Counselor will both enlighten and engage you. To learn more about this important population of adolescents and young adults through compelling keynote sessions and valuable workshops attend U.S. Journal Training’s 11th National Conference on Adolescents and Young Adults (April 11–13, 2013 Las Vegas, Nevada). For more information visit usjt.com.