New report recommends four basic starting points for reducing or eliminating the problems associated with youth substance abuse



    OTTAWA, Sept. 5 /CNW Telbec/ - A report released today by the Canadian
Centre on Substance Abuse (CCSA)-a national organization working to reduce
alcohol- and drug-related harm-provides an up-to-date look at youth substance
abuse and addiction in Canada, and outlines four broad strategic directions
for addressing the immediate and long-term threats that alcohol and other
drugs pose for this vulnerable segment of the population.
    Substance Abuse in Canada: Youth in Focus was authored by a team of
addiction and adolescent health professionals commissioned by CCSA to explore
the impact of youth substance abuse and its implications for policy and
practice. In planning this report, CCSA consulted with a variety of experts to
identify the issues of greatest concern in 2007. What emerged was a list of
topics with a single unifying theme: youth-whether it was concern about the
age of initiation for first-time alcohol and drug use (now around 14 or
younger), the unusually high levels of cannabis use among young Canadians
compared with their peers in other countries, or the rise in hazardous
drinking by those under 25. Equally important was an emphasis on prevention
and closing the research-to-practice gap.
    The report identifies four potential areas for action to deal with
substance use and abuse among youth:

    Matching services to age and stage

    Appropriate programs and services should be available to all young people
    as they move from childhood through adolescence. This requires that
    programs and services be adapted and matched to the age and needs of
    youth. Identifying and addressing underlying risks in young school-aged
    children is an area where there is much room for improvement.

    Implementing effective services

    There are few standards and little evidence to support some youth
    prevention and treatment services. This contributes to discrepancies in
    the quality of services delivered to youth. There is a need to develop
    accreditation standards for prevention and treatment programs and to tie
    funding directly to the implementation and evaluation of these accredited
    services.

    Preparing professionals

    We need better awareness and training in early detection, brief
    intervention and referral among a range of professionals who work with
    children and adolescents, including family doctors, teachers,
    psychologists and youth workers. The services these professionals provide
    need to be better coordinated.

    Continuing to develop knowledge

    Successful intervention strategies depend on comprehensive program
    evaluations to determine how to best address the needs of youth according
    to their culture, ethnicity and age. Yet, these kinds of evaluations are
    often not done. The truth is, many youth intervention programs operate
    with limited resources and there is great reluctance to spend money on
    evaluations.
    "Although a sustained commitment to addressing youth substance abuse will
require increased attention and resources, this continued effort will pay off
by reducing the considerable short- and long-term harms and costs associated
with substance use, abuse and dependence," said CCSA's Chief Executive
Officer, Michel Perron. "Targeting the underlying risk and protective factors
associated with substance abuse has the potential to reduce other negative
behaviour, including criminal and violent behaviour."
    The full report, Substance Abuse in Canada: Youth in Focus, is available
at www.ccsa.ca.

    About CCSA:

    With a legislated mandate to reduce alcohol- and other drug-related
harms, the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse provides leadership on national
priorities, fosters knowledge translation within the field, and creates
sustainable partnerships that maximize collective efforts. CCSA receives
funding support from Health Canada.




For further information:

For further information: Diane Benson, (613) 235-4048 ext. 243;
diane.benson@sympatico.ca

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Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse

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