Adolescent Substance Use, Addiction, and Treatment: A TAG Talk

(Posted January 2019)

During this time of concern about the opioid addiction crisis and the research on the brain development of young adults, the following resource may provide an opportunity to train your staff, learn more about the issues of today’s youth and provide ongoing help as you work in your communities and with youth. The U.S. Office of Adolescent Health has worked with an Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs and the Boston University School of Medicine staff from the addiction treatment clinic for teens and young adults at Boston Medical Center to develop a video. The video addresses substance use and addiction in adolescents and young adults. It offers the most effective approaches to treating addiction, including opioid addiction.

This video is the fourth in a series of TAG Talks and addresses substance use and addiction in adolescents and young adults. It shares the most effective approaches to treating addiction, including opioid addiction. The video is accompanied by two discussion guides, one for professionals and one for families, citations, and additional resources for interested viewers.

You may link to this resource at:

“Not Fit for Human Consumption”: A Lesson Guide

(Posted December 2018)

In recent years, there has been a rise in the number of health emergencies and overdoses related to drugs that are made illegally in laboratories. These synthetic drugs are created in illegal labs to imitate the effects of other, more commonly known substances, such as marijuana or prescription pain medications. These unregulated drugs can be even more dangerous than their counterparts. Scholastic, in partnership with the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), has developed a lesson plan that may be incorporated into current classroom curriculum or group work in treatment settings. The lesson, “Not Fit for Human Consumption”, supports the participants in learning about synthetic drugs—drugs created to mimic other drugs. This may include opioids (example: fentanyl), marijuana (examples: Spice, K2); and cathinones (example: “bath salts”). They also learn why synthetic drugs may be more dangerous than their counterparts and why they are so difficult to regulate.

To access this addition to your resources go to:

 Coming Soon: Recovery Month

(Posted June 2018)

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), is sponsoring the 23rd National Recovery Month (Recovery Month). Recovery Month focuses on increasing awareness and understanding of mental health and substance use disorders. It is an opportunity to celebrate the people in recovery. Each September, thousands of prevention, treatment, and recovery programs and facilities around our country celebrate Recovery Month, giving those in recovery the opportunity share about the advances made and share their success stories.

The theme for Recovery Month 2018 is Join the Voices for Recovery: Invest in Health, Home, Purpose, and Community. The 2018 theme explores how integrated care, a strong community, sense of purpose, and leadership contributes to effective treatments that support the recovery journey of persons with mental health and substance use disorders.

It is time to plan for your celebration. To help with this process, SAMHSA offers a Recovery Month Toolkit. To assist you in planning, check out the Toolkit available on the website: In addition, you will find logos, banners, flyers, and customizable posters to promote Recovery Month on social media, your website, and in your community at:

Join the millions celebrating recovery in September!! Become a “Voice for Recovery.”

The Illinois Opioid Action Plan

(Posted May 2018)


As this country faces the Opioid Epidemic, it is important for the human service providers and educators to have a good understanding of the strategies designed to address the issues in Illinois and in our communities. The causes of the epidemic are complex. Thus, the state government must work with everyone. That includes health care providers, local agencies, law enforcement, community groups, and individual citizens, all working toward a solution.

To meet this need, the Illinois Opioid Action Plan was developed. The Plan is the strategic framework for the future work. The Plan was finalized in September 2017. It focuses on three pillars that have six main priories and nine evidence-based strategies. The pillars are:

  • Prevention;
  • Treatment and Recovery;
  • Response.

To begin the work ahead, you will find the Illinois Opioid Action Plan on the Illinois Department of Public Health website at:

Listed below are additional resources to use in your work of addressing the opioid crisis.

Together we can make a difference.

Synthetic Cannabinoid Outbreak

(Posted April 2018)

As many providers are aware, there has been a recent concern related to the known adverse reactions to using synthetic cannabinoids believed to be laced with rat poison. Between April 24, 2018 and March 7, 2018, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has documented over 153 cases. This includes four deaths since March 7, 2018. The individuals reported the synthetic cannabinoid products, such as K2, spice, marijuana and legal weed, were obtained from convenience stores or dealers or friends. These products are sold for recreational use and marketed to the user as generating similar effects of cannabis.

As a human service provider, it is important to warn our communities and our consumers about the danger of these products that are being peddled as a safe and legal alternative to marijuana. If you have not reviewed the information provided by the IDPH, please visit their website. The website is updated daily at 1:30 p.m. and the update will continue as long as the outbreak is occurring. The site also has infographics that can be posted and other websites that can be shared to help inform and educate. To make use of the information, link to the following:

To assist you, the provider, in distributing the information into communities, you are encouraged to link onto the tools provided on the IDPH website. To access colorful and informative posters that you may print and distribute, visit:  Help create a safer environment.

What are They Thinking?

(Posted March 2018)

Do you sometimes wonder what is going on with the teens and young adults you work with? Do you get frustrated because they are not using their “brain” to make appropriate decisions? Do you try to justify that they are old enough to know how to behave in a healthier manner? Well… take a deep breath and read about a great resource for understanding how and why the “brain” of these young people is not working as you may believe it should.

With all the newer research regarding how the brain neurons grow and develop, we, as professionals, can begin to adjust our expectations of teens and young adults within our treatment services for Substance Use Disorder and mental health issues. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Adolescent Health, worked in collaboration with the Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs and the Penn Translational Neuroscience Center Co-Director Dr. Frances Jensen in developing a video and discussion guides about the adolescent brain development research. The video, The Power of the Adolescent Brain: A TAG Talk, is motivated by her parenting of teens, clinical experience and research. Dr. Jensen shares what researchers have discovered about young adult brain development, functioning and capacity. She provides practical ideas for providers and families in dealing with young people.

The video can be viewed in full length format or in six segments for individual viewing or for group viewing. There are two discussion guides for professionals and for families that support the video. To access these resources, go to: .

Managing Trauma

(Posted February 2018)

Recent traumatic events in our country have created stressful and worrisome times for students, schools and parents alike. As a human service field, it is important that providers and agencies are prepared to address the trauma and support the healing process. An important strategy providers to use in the effort to help is to bolster resilience in our young people. This is especially true for teens and young adults who have lived through a traumatic or threatening experience. In response to this need, the website has compiled the following list of federal resources for those who work with our young population:

·         Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs;

·         U.S. Department of Health and Human Services;

·         U.S. Department of Education;

·         U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Each agency provides several resources to help address the needs of our teens and young adults in these stressful times. To access the resources, link to:


 Plan Now!!

(Posted August 2017)

The next National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week® (NDAFW) will be held Jan. 22-28, 2018. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) sponsors NDAFW as an annual, week-long series of educational events that brings together teens and scientific experts to SHATTER THE MYTHS® about substance use and addiction. NIDA and NIAAA announced that local event registration begins today for the annual event. NIDA and NIAAA are both part of the National Institutes of Health.

NDAFW events can be held by an assortment of organizations that may include agencies, organizations, schools, community groups, sports clubs, and hospitals. Activities can focus on general drug use or on specific issues of concern in individual communities. To register your event go to:

The “Cool Spot”

(Posted March 2017)

If you are a treatment provider or a teacher, take a look at the website sponsored by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) called the “Cool Spot.” The website provides resources to help you educate and work with younger clients or students in interactive ways. The “Cool Spot” offers tools for teachers and group facilitators. The page contains lesson plans that include quizzes, challenges, answer keys and scripts for role-playing scenarios about peer pressure. Increase your educational Tool Box by viewing

Learning Tool to Enhance Group Activities

(Posted February 2017)

Do you facilitate a group as part of substance abuse treatment?
Do you struggle with how to keep the participants actively engaged?
Do you teach a health education class that addresses substance abuse issues?

If your answer is YES, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has developed a new BINGO GAME activity to be used by teachers and group facilitators. It was offered as an activity to use during the National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week® (NDAFW). The NDAFW week was held last month but to support ongoing efforts, the NDAFW web page posted the new BINGO GAME for ongoing use in the classroom and group setting. The game, instead of displaying the words BINGO at the top, uses the five letters NDAFW. Using the same process as traditional Bingo, the activity leader will call out a vocabulary word, rather than a number, and read the description that follows. If the player has the word under the correct letter, that space is covered. The point of the game is to educate players about certain topics and facts related to drug and alcohol use in an interesting and fun manner. The game continues until a player has a winning “BINGO” pattern. To liven up your group and enhance learning, download the NIDA game from:

Support National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week

(Posted January 2017)

It’s not too late to be a part of the National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week (NDAFW). The week is a national health observance week for teens that promotes local educational activities and events. The week is sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). It uses NIDA science based information to SHATTER THE MYTHSTM,SM about drugs. Take advantage of the learning opportunities for the young people in your community and become a participant in the week’s activities. Try the new, fun activity: NDAFW BINGO! To access the NDAFW BINGO and many other fun learning resources, link on to

Knowledge Network for Systems of Care TV

(Posted December 2016)

As a provider, you may be seeking more resources to assist you with the services you provide to transitional age youth, often called emerging adults. The transitional age youth is an assorted population to work with. As teens enter the next phase of life, their focus changes and is often overwhelming for them. There has been an interest the past few years to learn more about the age group and how to support teens as they enter adulthood. The research indicates there are a variety of unique issues and needs for this age group. To help understand these needs and issues, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has developed a series of webisodes that are provided on Knowledge Network for Systems of Care TV (KSOC – TV). The network provides web-based technical assistance programs featuring behavioral health experts that discuss current issues in children’s mental health. Links for two webisodes addressing transitional age youth issues are provided below.

“The REAL Real World: Helping Young People on Their Journey to Adulthood,” aired July 2014. The webisode explores emerging issues among young adults in transition (ages 18 – 25) including employment, housing, education, juvenile justice, and peer support.

“Supporting Young Veterans and Young Parents,” aired June 2014. The webisode highlights evidence-based practices to help young adults (ages 18–25) and their families address mental health needs specific to military service and parenting.

You may review additional resources provided on KSOC – TV and SAMHSA by visiting the SAMHSA site at


National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week is Announced

(Posted September 2016)

On August 25, 2016, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) announced the next National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week (NDAFW) will be held on January 23-29, 2017. The weeklong event links teens with scientists and other experts that create a safe spot for teens to ask questions addressing alcohol and other drug use and not experience judgment or lectures. Since the NDAFW began in 2010, the number of community-based events has sprung up with over 2,000 held last January throughout all 50 states and in 10 states. The week’s events may be sponsored by an assortment of organizations, such as schools, community groups, recreational groups, mental health agencies and substance use disorder organizations.

To support preparation for the week, event sponsors are offering online resources that offer guidance to teens and the adult coordinators. The website will offer information on how to make an event, how to publicize it, and how to obtain scientific data on drugs. If event sponsors register online, they will have free booklets with science-based facts about drugs and alcohol, including NIDA’s teen publication, Drugs: SHATTER THE MYTHS. In addition, each year NIDA and NIAAA develop a new interactive National Drug & Alcohol IQ Challenge. The quiz is fun and a challenging tool to incorporate into the week’s events. NDAFW scientists will hold their annual “web chat” with hundreds of teens from around the country on January, 26, 2017 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST. More details on the popular annual chat, including registration information and previous transcripts is available on

Educational Resources

(Posted July 2016)

Looking for current and accurate resources for use in your substance use education groups?

Do you provide substance use disorder prevention and treatment services within your area?

If so, you may want to review the resources provided on the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) website for teens. NIDA has partnered with Scholastic, Inc. in the development of a variety of tools to help with your educational goals. The site, updated on May 27, 2016, includes:

Lesson plans with an activity finder,

Drug facts information and statistics,

Curriculum and infographics,

Interactives and videos,


If you are in search of learning tools to engage your clients or to meet substance abuse education goals, go to: These tools are a helpful resource for either the classroom teacher or treatment group facilitator.

Promoting Parent Involvement

(Posted June 2016)

If you are struggling with how to boost the importance of family involvement within your agency’s service delivery, take a look at the resources offered on website. The U.S. government website offers you a variety of facts and resources about evidence-based programs for families who may be in need of your services. The web link shares eight helpful hints for encouraging active family and community involvement. The hints address enhancing school success, reducing risky behavior, building healthy relationships and promoting family retention in services. To access the information, click on:

Taking the Mystery Out of Implementing Evidence-based Programs

(Posted October 2015)

Over the years the substance use disorder (SUD) field has recognized and implemented a variety of evidence-based programs and practices. The primary experts on evidence-based programs and practices are the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP). As an organization begins the process of selecting an evidence-based program, it may need some guidance with the process. For assistance NREPP has developed an online course that is also available to download and print. The course, A Road Map to Implementing Evidence-based Programs, provides guidance for the selection and implementation of evidence-based programs related to prevention and treatment that are available today. The course goals address how to select the program that best matches your organization’s needs and how to carry out the steps necessary to implement the selected program.

Whether looking for a program that addresses underage drinking, substance use disorders, parenting, bullying, or treatment of a mental health disorder, the information contained in the NREPP course can help in the selection, implementation, and sustainability of the program.

With the online version of the course, the user may click on additional information not provided in the print version. The online version provides links to:

A glossary of evidence-based terms;

Community Needs Assessment Resources and Tools;

Questions to Ask: Financial and Personnel Resources;

Organizational Capacity Resources and Tools;

Commitment and Buy-In tool;

Program Registries Resources and Tools;

Center for Substance Abuse Prevention Checklist for Program Fit;

Fidelity and Adaptation Resources and Tools;

National Implementation Research Network.

The site also provides links to Best Practices and Potential Challenges related to each implementation stage. Check out the resource, A Road Map to Implementing Evidence-based Programs, available on

Introducing the Illinois Family Resource Center (Posted August 2015)

Beginning April 1, 2015, Central East Alcoholism and Drug Council implemented the first steps to the development of the Illinois Family Resource Center. The Family Resource Center is a project funded by the Illinois Adolescent Infrastructure and Treatment Enhancement Initiative (SAT-ED). The Illinois SAT-ED is a federal grant funded through the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration/Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (SAMHSA/CSAT) with the intent of supporting the enhancement and dissemination of evidence-based substance abuse treatment and recovery support services for teens and their families. The goal of the Family Resource Center is to ensure family involvement in all aspects of adolescent care within the Illinois substance abuse treatment system. To assist in meeting this goal, the Family Resource Center has begun a pilot process implementing evidence-based family curricula into both Adolescent Residential and Adolescent Outpatient programs. The Center will compile “lessons learned” and develop strategies that may be shared with other organizations seeking information about the process for selecting and implementing family focused substance use services for adolescents.

On July 1, 2015, the Illinois Family Resource Center website was launched as an information and resource link for parents, teens and providers. There will be new articles placed on the web pages each month. The web links will be updated on a continuing basis. Please take a few minutes and browse through the pages. As the Family Resource Center project expands, the Family Center Coordinator will be networking with other agencies who are involved in adolescent treatment services with the intent of sharing information.

If you are interested in learning more about the Illinois Family Resource Center or sharing “lessons learned,” please contact Nancy Phillips, Family Center Coordinator, at (217) 258-6018 or email

Families of Youth with Substance Use Disorders: A National Dialogue (Posted August 2015)

 The history of family engagement in substance use disorder treatment services is fraught with problems. Research has shown that the participation of families in adolescent substance use treatment is a vital piece of successful recovery. Other systems that serve youth, such as mental health and developmental disabilities, have included families as active partners in the treatment process successfully. In 2005 the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) developed the Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment Coordination (SAC) grants. Fifteen states were awarded 3-year grants to increase the capacity of the states to provide effective, accessible and affordable treatment for adolescents and their families. One of the five priority areas of the state grantees was on developing family involvement. Because of the SAC initiative, the states made substantial progress involving families at the practice, program, and policy levels. These state efforts resulted in the National Family Dialogue meeting held in 2009.

On March 27 and 28, 2009, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) gathered a group of providers, family members, federal government representatives and consultants for the first national meeting to include family members of youth with substance use disorders (SUD). The majority of the family members attending were participants in the SAC State’s efforts. This group came together to identify challenges and opportunities to improve the adolescent treatment/recovery system as well as to strengthen family involvement at the Federal, State, and Tribal levels. Thirty-four states, the District of Columbia, and Tribal Nations were represented at the dialogue meeting.

The CSAT/SAMHSA National Family Dialogue meeting included the following goals:

Strengthen and shape the roles and responsibilities of families as valued substance use treatment/recovery system partners and advocates.

Develop supports to empower families of youth with substance use disorders in order to create positive changes in the substance use disorder treatment and recovery system.

Develop recommendations for CSAT/SAMHSA on strengthening and expanding family involvement in youth substance use disorder treatment and recovery at the practice, program, and policy levels.

During the two days the participants heard presentations from representatives of all the groups attending. The presentations were processed within small groups that were facilitated by a team including a family member and a substance use professional. There were five small groups that made recommendations addressing the following:

Challenges for youth in the current substance use disorder treatment and recovery system,

Ideal features of a youth treatment/recovery system and necessary actions to realize these features, and

Definition of the roles of family members and the supports necessary to sustain family member involvement in the treatment/recovery system.

Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2010). Families of Youth with Substance Use Addiction: A National Dialogue. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The Provider section will continue to provide information about history and current efforts to involve families in substance use treatment at the practice, program, and policy levels.