‘Somebody Asked:’ A Simple Strategy to Address Substance Use

by Reclaiming Futures Staff

This story was originally published in YouthToday.org. It is authored by Alexa Eggleston, a senior program officer, domestic programs at the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. 

Alexa-Eggleston2-336x504In the first two years of our work to advance new approaches to prevent and reduce substance use among youth and young adults, a key finding we often share surprises most people: Young people actually think health care practitioners should talk to them about alcohol and drugs.

Unfortunately, most health care providers do not screen their adolescent patients for substance use as part of routine clinical care.  And no, we aren’t talking about the “Just Say No” approach of the ‘80s and ‘90s, but a new approach based in the research literature that frames substance use as a health issue.

Just as health care practitioners counsel young people about other health matters — like the importance of eating right, exercise and safe sex — there is a new movement to apply these same strategies to discuss the negative impact that alcohol and drugs can have on their health, relationships and other things that matter to them.

Currently referred to as Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) or Screening and Brief Intervention (SBI) in some circles, the approach has been proven effective in reducing risky drinking in adults in primary care settings. Several recent promising studies have explored how SBIRT can be applied “upstream” with youth and young adults to address risky drinking and other drug use, particularly marijuana, early on before it has harmful consequences.

The central feature, and key difference from past approaches, is the emphasis on using motivational techniques to engage the young person and empower them to make healthier decisions about their alcohol and drug use. Endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the approach — asking questions, via a validated screening tool, in order to identify early use and respond with a brief intervention — is helping shift the paradigm regarding how we address alcohol and drug use in young people. It also provides an important opportunity to better understand why young people become involved with alcohol and drugs, and how their initiation to it impacts whether their use progresses.

Conversations with young people in recovery unearth a common thread: the missed opportunities where a caring adult could have intervened before life spiraled out of control. One recovery advocate shared: “At 16, when my boyfriend went to rehab, you think someone would have asked me if I was OK, but they didn’t, and my use progressed.” Examples like this are all too common, and it is time for the practitioners and systems that serve youth to become better equipped with information and skills they need to open the lines of communication effectively. Rather than dismissing the signs as so-called normal teen behavior and hoping they go away, or providing lectures that fall on deaf ears, it is time to start having informed conversations with young people and really listening to what they have to say.

The utility of SBIRT is that it can be structured to respond to youth along a continuum. Practitioners provide positive feedback to those who are not using alcohol and drugs, while letting them know that if anything changes, or if they ever have questions or concerns about their friends or family, they have somewhere to turn. For those young people who are drinking or using other drugs, the practitioner works with them to identify the impact they see it having on their life and then helps them set goals to stop or reduce their use and stay safe (for example by not riding in cars with impaired drivers, a trend still prevalent among youth). Finally, for the small number of young people who need addiction treatment, the practitioner should ensure they get connected to and receive the holistic care necessary to get them back on track.

For many youth, substance use is just one issue they’re dealing with, and others may emerge, like mental health, family issues and other risky behaviors. While addressing these issues is a complex task, we cannot continue to bury our heads in the sand and let ignorance, fear and stigma keep us from asking the important questions and developing appropriate responses. It is time to engage a broad community of young people, caregivers, practitioners, governmental entities, philanthropy and other stakeholders in conversations about how we can build collective responses to support the health and well-being of young people.

We are working with a range of diverse organizations at the national, state and local levels to train providers, support program implementation, and develop and disseminate knowledge about best practices and lessons learned. Though we have much to learn, through partnerships with organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics, the School-Based Health Alliance, YouthBuild USA,Reclaiming Futures and Young People in Recovery, we are building the collective will to do things differently when it comes to combatting substance use disorders and improving the lives of young people.

Alexa Eggleston is senior program officer, domestic programs at the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. To learn more about the foundation’s approach, visit hiltonfoundation.org/priorities/substance-use-prevention.

About Reclaiming Futures Staff

 

Opportunity Board Roundup: Juvenile Justice Grants, Jobs, Webinars and Events

by Kate Knappett

opportunityBelow you’ll find a selection of the latest grants, jobs, webinars and events posted to our Opportunity Board. Please share the Reclaiming Futures Opportunity Board with your colleagues in the juvenile justice, adolescent substance use and teen mental health areas. We encourage you to browse and to post!

Events

Webinars

Jobs

Grants

  • No listings
Kate Knappett

About Kate Knappett

Kate Knappett is a member of the Reclaiming Futures National Program Office.

 

Opportunity Board Roundup: Juvenile Justice Grants, Jobs, Webinars and Events

by Kate Knappett

opportunityBelow you’ll find a selection of the latest grants, jobs, webinars and events posted to our Opportunity Board. Please share the Reclaiming Futures Opportunity Board with your colleagues in the juvenile justice, adolescent substance use and teen mental health areas. We encourage you to browse and to post!

Events

Webinars

Jobs

Grants

  • No listings
Kate Knappett

About Kate Knappett

Kate Knappett is a member of the Reclaiming Futures National Program Office.

 

New ‘Ban the Box’ Bill Would Improve Access to Federal Jobs for Youth With Records; News Roundup

by Kate Knappett

Every week Reclaiming Futures rounds up the latest news on juvenile justice reform, adolescent substance use treatment, and teen mental health. 

New ‘Ban the Box’ Bill Would Improve Access to Federal Jobs for Youth With Records (Juvenile Justice Information Exchange)
The new Fair Chance To Compete for Jobs Act would help youth with criminal histories gain employment by prohibiting employers from asking about criminal history until a conditional offer of employment is received. The hope is that this will help qualified candidates avoid the stigma of past conviction when seeking out employment. As many as 70 million people with criminal histories may face barriers to employment.

OJJDP Releases Research on Youth’s Mental Health Needs and Long-Term Outcomes After Detention (PR Newswire)
Earlier this week the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) released four research bulletins based on an investigation of the mental health needs and long-term outcomes of juvenile detainees.

Teen charged with killing two in wreck while high on ‘Poor Man’s PCP’ will face adult court (The Morning Call)
A Northampton County judge ruled Tuesday that teenage Brandon R. Creyer will be tried as an adult for charges of killing two people, due to causing a three-vehicle crash while high on cough syrup. Creyer was 17 years old at the time of the crash last November. The decision to transfer the case to adult court, less focused on rehabilitation, was made based on new charges that Creyer robbed a neighbor at gunpoint not long after the crash.

Attorneys in Slender Man case appeal decision on adult prosecution (Journal Sentinel)
Last Friday, attorneys for the 13- year-old girls charged with the Slender Man stabbing case filed an emergency petition with the Court of Appeals to suspend the trial pending an appeal of a judge’s decision last month not to transfer the case to juvenile court.

The Cost of a Broken Juvenile Justice System (WhoWhatWhy)
This new podcast interview features a story from Nell Bernstein, author of Burning Down the House: The End of Juvenile Prison.

Learning classical guitar helps kids in trouble change their tune (PBS NewsHour)
Five years ago, a nonprofit partnered with a juvenile justice center in Texas to help incarcerated youth finish high school by learning classical guitar. The PBS video documenting its success was released on Tuesday.

Jobs, Grants, Events and Webinars

Please share the Reclaiming Futures Opportunity Board with your colleagues in the juvenile justice, adolescent substance abuse and teen mental health areas. We encourage you to browse, and to post!

Kate Knappett

About Kate Knappett

Kate Knappett is a member of the Reclaiming Futures National Program Office.

 

Opportunity Board Roundup: Juvenile Justice Grants, Jobs, Webinars and Events

by Kate Knappett

opportunityBelow you’ll find a selection of the latest grants, jobs, webinars and events posted to our Opportunity Board. Please share the Reclaiming Futures Opportunity Board with your colleagues in the juvenile justice, adolescent substance use and teen mental health areas. We encourage you to browse and to post!

Events

Webinars

Jobs

Grants

Kate Knappett

About Kate Knappett

Kate Knappett is a member of the Reclaiming Futures National Program Office.

 

Back to School: Activating Support for Behavioral Health Awareness

by Jenna Cerruti

Back to School Twitter Profile PicKids and teens are gearing up to head back to school, but more than 12 million of them will face a mental health disorder over the next year. Sometimes these issues aren’t addressed in schools or by parents, and can result in substance use, status offenses and ultimately, involvement with the juvenile justice system.

As juvenile justice and behavioral health experts, we can empower our networks to provide support to young people struggling with a mental health disorders, so they can continue on a productive path inside and outside the classroom.

Mental Health America has launched a back to school toolkit to equip parents and school staff with tools and resources about why mental health matters, how to identify the early signs of mental health disorders, and how to best support kids. Further, it features recommendations for reaching out to service providers when a mental health disorder is detected.

Last week, Education Week emphasized the importance of this issue in its article Helping Students With Mental-Health Issues Return to School. It reiterates that teachers typically spend the most time with kids and teens, and are therefore positioned to detect behavioral health issues among students. The article explains:

“We need a coalition of committed educators, mental-health professionals, policymakers, and families to confront this issue collectively, and we need research to guide effective back-to-school interventions and supports. Our youths deserve it, and if we are to keep them healthy and in school—let alone engaged and thriving—we need a plan.”

Deploying a mental health toolkit is just the start, but sharing this across your networks can heighten awareness and spark action this school year, improving the lives of the 12 millions kids and teens facing behavioral health challenges.
We’d love to hear about other resources you look to for promoting behavioral health practices in schools. Share in the comments below.

Jenna Cerruti

About

Jenna Cerruti is an account manager at Prichard, a communications partner to Reclaiming Futures.

 

4 Ways to Promote Behavioral and Mental Health During September’s Recovery Month

by Jenna Cerruti

2015-planning-partners_banners_squareThe Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is gearing up for its 26th year hosting Recovery Month, a national observance to promote awareness around substance use treatment and mental health services.

As a champion for better treatment for adolescents, Reclaiming Futures echoes SAMHSA’s Recovery Month message that behavioral health is essential to overall health. We’ve seen tremendous gains across our 42 sites among teens who have received substance use treatment or mental health services, connected with mentors and natural helpers, and immersed back into their communities in productive ways. Mia’s story in Snohomish County is just one example of this.

In addition to Mia, there are millions of Americans whose lives have been transformed through recovery. Recovery Month is a time for these people to celebrate and speak about their accomplishments, extend the awareness of the importance of treatment and recovery, and encourage those struggling to seek help.

As leaders in the behavioral health and juvenile justice field, you can help promote Recovery Month to your networks and communities. SAMHSA offers a comprehensive toolkit [PDF] to make it easy. Check out these top four, simple ways to promote better treatment during Recovery Month:

  1. Generate Media Attention for Your Program:

Because of its national prominence, National Recovery Month is a fantastic news hook for your organization or treatment program to get noticed by local media. Reporters will be interested to know how your program is supporting vulnerable communities, and specifically what your recovery impact is on your community. Consider pitching reporters a package complete with specific data points and a personal story, or submitting an op-ed tied to Recovery Month. The toolkit shares step-by-step practical tips for conducting media outreach, particularly around your Recovery Month event.

  1. Support Natural Helpers

Family members, peers, teachers or other natural helpers close to the youth are often the first to recognize a mental and/or substance use disorder. This close knit community is also critical to recovery, monitoring and promoting positive behavioral health. During Recovery Month and beyond, consider partnerships with family support groups, outreach to county or health department officials to arrange guest-speaking opportunities to educate families about recovery, or developing a resource guide to support natural helpers through their journeys with a person in recovery.

  1. Share Stories

Stories of recovery are powerful. They evoke emotion and help your audience visualize what treatment actually looks like. SAMHSA offers several personal stories in its toolkit, but consider sharing stories related to your own behavioral health program with your networks or community members to grab their attention, promote treatment and drive awareness of your organization.

  1. Join an Event

You don’t have to host and coordinate an event all on your own. SAMHSA has tracked and published all Recovery Month events that you can search for by state. Encourage your staff to attend a local event to show support — you may find new local connections or potential partners that can help advance your work.

How are you celebrating Recovery Month? Share your thoughts for how juvenile justice and behavioral health leaders can promote this important national observance.

Jenna Cerruti

About

Jenna Cerruti is an account manager at Prichard, a communications partner to Reclaiming Futures.

 

NCJFCJ Resolves to Stop Shackling of Children in Juvenile Court; News Roundup

by Kate Knappett

Every week Reclaiming Futures rounds up the latest news on juvenile justice reform, adolescent substance use treatment, and teen mental health. 

New Release: The NCJFCJ Resolves to Stop Shackling of Children in Juvenile Court (Nevada Business)
The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) released its resolution on Monday stating that automatic shackling of young people in juvenile court is not a fair or trauma-informed practice, and such a practice will no longer be tolerated. This resolution builds on the NCJFCJ’s 2005 guidelines calling for a continuum of effective and least intrusive responses in juvenile justice.

Police should put away the military gear and build connections with young people (The Conversation)
It has now been one year since the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, and Dr. Arthur Romano writes about the ongoing protests, and why there is a need for a shift in funding priorities away from paramilitary approaches toward strengthening community consultation, community-led prevention efforts and long-term partnerships with at-risk communities. Dr. Romano is a researcher and educator in the field of conflict resolution.

‘Slender Man’ stabbing: 13-year-old Wisconsin girls will be tried as adults (Washington Post)
On Monday, a Wisconsin judge ruled that the two teens charged with stabbing a classmate in the the high-profile 2014 “Slender Man” case will be tried as adults later this month. Advocates of juvenile justice reform, such as the National Juvenile Defender Center, believe the girls should be charged as minors. Lawyers for Geyser and Weier made efforts to return the teens to juvenile court, where the maximum sentence would be five years, and where they believed the girls would receive better mental health treatment. If convicted in adult court, they each face sentences up to 45 years, and would be moved to an adult facility at 18 years old.

Report: Certainty, Not Severity, Key in Deterring Juvenile Crime (Juvenile Justice Information Exchange)
new report, released by the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), finds that there is a need to devote resources to change risk perceptions, rather than prisons.

Helping Black Boys Survive: What a Difference a Smile Makes (Huffington Post)
President of Children’s Defense Fund, Marian Wright Edelman, discusses Black mental health and Black male suicide, and the importance of connectedness and building relationships, particularly for young people. Edelman emphasizes that plain kindness – even just a smile – goes a long way in building self-esteem in our children and helping a young person in crisis make it to the next step.

Citywide youth program hopes to eliminate substance abuse, crime (FOX19)
Cincinnati youth program H3Cincy began its new summer session last Friday. The basketball program hopes to bring empowerment to its community by reducing, if not eliminating, substance abuse, crime, and fatalities in Cincinnati with youth activities including mentoring, leadership development, and basketball team play. H3Cincy is a five-week educational and athletic program.

Jobs, Grants, Events and Webinars

Please share the Reclaiming Futures Opportunity Board with your colleagues in the juvenile justice, adolescent substance use treatment and teen mental health areas. We encourage you to browse, and to post!

Kate Knappett

About Kate Knappett

Kate Knappett is a member of the Reclaiming Futures National Program Office.

 

Opportunity Board Roundup: Juvenile Justice Grants, Jobs, Webinars and Events

by Kate Knappett

opportunityBelow you’ll find a selection of the latest grants, jobs, webinars and events posted to our Opportunity Board. Please share the Reclaiming Futures Opportunity Board with your colleagues in the juvenile justice, adolescent substance use and teen mental health areas. We encourage you to browse and to post!

Events

Webinars

Jobs

Grants

Kate Knappett

About Kate Knappett

Kate Knappett is a member of the Reclaiming Futures National Program Office.

 

Mural Dedication Attracts Community Support for Reclaiming Futures

by Brittini Long

The Reclaiming Futures program in Montgomery County, Ohio, has been using arts New Image1programming to build assets in our young people since 2010. More than 110 youth have benefited from the Helping Adolescents Achieve Long-term Objectives (HAALO) program since that time.

On June 30, 2015 Montgomery County Juvenile Court hosted a Community Mural Dedication to celebrate the amazing work of the HAALO Program. The “Signs to a Creative Future” mural was dedicated to the youth artists who spent countless hours conceptualizing and creating the mural. Judge Nick Kuntz welcomed over 150 community leaders, residents, youth artists and their families to the event. Judge Anthony Capizzi thanked the plethora of sponsors, volunteers, staff, families and youth artists who made this mural a reality. Dayton’s City Manager, Warren Price, was also on hand to highlight the importance of making our community a better place though graffiti abatement projects like this one. Guests enjoyed refreshments and educational coloring books were given to all the youth in attendance.

This special event was a huge success for us, and a great opportunity to engage the wider community in supporting the youth and families we serve. We look forward to expanding our program to include restorative justice circles, music programming, theatre, and culinary arts. Look for more stories from the HAALO program in the near future!

20150701_132833

Brittini Long

About Brittini Long

Brittini began her career with the Juvenile Court in 2000 as a Work Therapy Supervisor in Community Based Services. After completing her Bachelors Degree at Wright State University, Brittini was promoted into the role of Intensive Probation Officer working with female offenders. Brittini was instrumental in creating the HAALO Program, exposing at-risk youth to art opportunities in the community. Because of her hard work and commitment to the youth and families that she served, she was honored as Montgomery County Juvenile Court’s Employee of the Year in 2011. Brittini joined the Reclaiming Futures team in 2012 and currently serves as Montgomery County Juvenile Court’s Community Engagement Coordinator. She is happily married and has two children.