This month’s research bulletin includes new articles and reports about youth substance use, treatment needs and barriers to accessing services, hospital stays relate to youth substance use, and a systematic review of youth substance use interventions.
- Youth Substance Use Services in BC: An Update (2020)
- Assessing service and treatment needs and barriers of youth who use illicit and non-medical drugs (2019)
- Interventions for Substance Use Disorders in Adolescents: A Systematic Review (2020)
- Hospital Stays for Harm Caused by Substance Use Among Youth Age 10 to 24 (2019)
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1. Youth Substance Use Services in BC: Update (2020)
This report provides an update to the 2016 inventory of youth substance use services in British Columbia conducted by the BC the Representative for Children and Youth. This report provides a new baseline of substance use services for youth that will allow the representative to measure and publicly report on progress made by ministries and health authorities to improve access to and information about youth substance use services in BC.
The report contains a number of significant findings that are detailed at length. Among many others: (1) the landscape of youth substance use services in BC is complicated, with no centralized point for access or information; (2) youth-specific substance use services are limited across BC; (3) information about services is hard to come by; (4) cultural safety training does not necessarily result in culturally safe service; and (5) available services are not always accessible.
The report also highlights the fact that many youth are also getting caught between two streams of funding: youth mental health services funded by MCFD and youth substance use services funded by the Ministry of Health. This means that youth with concurrent mental health and substance use concerns are unable to access either service due to eligibility criteria or lack of staff training on concurrent disorders.
2. Assessing service and treatment needs and barriers of youth who use illicit and non-medical drugs (2019)
The goal of this study was to assess specific service and treatment needs for youth who use illicit drugs in Northern Ontario as well as the barriers and deterrents they face in accessing and utilizing services and treatments.
The study identified an overall lack of services available to youth. More specifically, barriers to accessing treatment and services included: lack of motivation, stigmatization, long wait-lists, and transportation/mobility issues. The needs articulated by the youth interviewed revolved around the necessity of harm reduction-based services, low-threshold programs, specialized programming, and peer-based counselling.
Although each community varied in terms of drug use behaviours and available services, there was an obvious lack of service availability and an overall need for youth-specific, low-threshold, and accessible services as well as wrap-around treatment options and support navigating service systems.
3. Interventions for Substance Use Disorders in Adolescents: A Systematic Review (2020)
This in-depth and extensive report from the US systematically reviewed an array of substance use interventions for youth and adolescents in order to help health care decision-makers, clinicians, and policymakers improve the quality of services available to youth with substance use disorders.
The researchers found that motivational interviewing for adolescents with problematic substance use reduced both heavy alcohol use and overall days of use (and may also decrease problems related to substance use, such as missing school or work. Among intensive interventions, family therapy (with a focus on intervening in the entire family system) was the most effective. Neither brief motivational interviewing nor intensive interventions appeared to reduce cannabis use but combined cognitive behavioural therapy and motivational interviewing did decrease illicit drug use.
4. Hospital Stays for Harm Caused by Substance Use Among Youth Age 10 to 24 (2019)
There is limited analysis of indicators of harm caused by substance use among youth—such as emergency department visits and hospitalizations—but studies suggest that harmful substance use is a growing issue for youth in Canada. This report takes a closer look at who is being hospitalized for harm and for which substances in order to help inform efforts to improve access to services for youth. It provides a Canada-wide snapshot of hospitalizations for harm caused by substance use among youth age 10 to 24 in 2017–2018.
Key findings include: (1) one out of every 20 hospital stays among youth in Canada were related to harmful substance use in 2017–2018; (2) about 70% of hospital stays for harm caused by substance use among youth involved care for a concurrent mental health condition; and (3) hospitalization rates higher for youth living in lower-income neighbourhoods or rural and remote areas.