It is difficult to assess how many young people use substances recreationally as it’s  usually a transient activity that does not lead to addiction.  However while many young people emerge unharmed, there are others who will not.

As the plethora of New Psychoactive Substances (Legal Highs) explodes around us, we accept then that the associated harms of today’s drugs can be both physiological and/or psychological.

When harm is identified, teenage substance misuse can be complex to understand and treat.   There are however, facts that we are sure of that effectively guide our treatment of adolescents:

  • We know that brain maturation is not complete until around the age of 25 – the implications for this is that early use may  lead to substance misuse disorders in later life

  • We know that teenage substance misuse may differ from that of an adults – as such it is crucial to establish a context of use in order to utilise the most appropriate intervention (brief or more in depth)

  • We know that randomised control trials demonstrate that no one particular style of treatment is more effective than the other, but crucial is the therapeutic alliance – as such the practitioners at Youth Interventions are highly empathetic yet firm, flexible in their approach yet consistent and have high levels of patience coupled with a strong sense of humour.


Youth Intervention’s model are alligned with NICE clinical guidelines  and we follow the following procedures:

We screen and assess

We offer a brief interventions – or we refer for further treatment.

In some cases, a couple of sessions are all that are required to raise awareness and prevent escalation of use.  For others, things may be more complex. Our qualitative research of looked after and accommodated adolescents indicates that many of them fit the Self Medicating Hypothesis.  Of course this is not the case for all young people, but certainly for some, use may be an attempt to alleviate the pain of  underlying emotional/psychological trauma.

Youth Interventions devise a treatment modality and recovery pathway that is person centered and best meets the need of each individual young person.



During the screening process we will use internationally recognised screening tools.  If it is identified that an intervention/treatment is necessary then we will carry out a more comprehensive assessment in order establish a context of use.  The assessment will consider the different life domains of the young person and identify where any deficits may exists within their social, family, education, work domains.  While we are indeed screening for substance misuse problems, when we carry out our assessment, we have a more holistic approach, considering the resilience, self-esteem, and emotional wellbeing of the young person.


The efficacy of brief interventions have been well documented and are encouraging.  Depending on the assessment outcome and context of use, B.I’s may be appropriate.  Young people respond to different types of intervention, and the Youth Intervention Practitioner will liaise with concerned others and colleagues after the assessment process  – and determine how best to move forward.  The young person will always be made aware of why things are progressing as they are, and will be asked throughout if the course of action is suitable to their needs.  However, we are not new to this, and we know that more often than not, we will face resistance. Unlike adults, who usually hit their “rock bottom” before seeking treatments, teenagers are usually engaging against their will. We know this, and respond to this accordingly, rolling with resistance and always working to the principles of motivational interviewing.


For others, a B.I. is not appropriate, and a more lengthy plan will be recommended. We know that every young person is different – and they respond to many different approaches.  Some young people will respond well to talking therapies including cognitive behavioural therapy, motivational interviewing and counselling, while others who are perhaps more introverted, may recoil at the very thought and may respond better to diversionary programmes. How will we know?  We will listen!  Empathy and a genuine capacity to care are crucial elements of the Youth Interventions Substance Misuse Practitioner and our team are not only theoretically skilled and qualified, we have also spent many years working in the field of addiction and substance misuse.  In our time we have been hit (both figuratively and literally!) with all kinds of objections. We are used to the highs and lows that teenagers present to us, and we really do roll with resistance when we face it (which we regularly do!).


The practitioners at Youth Interventions understand and identify with much of what your young people have experienced.  We know first hand about the impact that substance misuse can have on families, and about the shame that many people feel.  We’re here to smash the stigma and help our young people shake off any associated feelings of shame or guilt.   We introduce treatment that is based around compassion, joy, humour, intellect and mutual respect.  We understand the paradoxical nature of teenage substance abuse – sometimes drugs are taken so that teenagers will fit in with the crowd, and yet when a young person is in the grip of abuse or addiction, it can be the loneliest place on earth.   Attempting to navigate this journey alone is terrifying.

The practitioners at Youth Interventions are strong on the principles of Evidence Based Practice and mutual aid , and and such we draw strength from each other.  We have years of professional experience, working with adolescents who have many complex needs, working across the different domains of their lives.  We are practical and pragmatic and have sound responses to the needs of adolescents, but we are academically and professionally competent too, and as such all of our sessions will be documented in order to demonstrate evidence based practice and accountability.

While most Interventions are Psychosocial, the comprehensive assessment process will consider if the young person does need medical intervention.  If this is required we will work with concerned others to ensure that the young person is immediately referred for medical assistance.

Teenage substance misuse is happening – but historically service provision has not met their needs!  How do we know? Because they have told us.

The service created by Youth Interventions is in response to this.

Call us – 07799952937