Your community resource for addiction education, prevention, and recovery.
Young people in their teen and young adult years have an important job: to learn more about themselves and how to become independent adults. That process can be exciting, scary and confusing all at the same time. Each day, young people face many big decisions that heavily influence their futures, including those regarding their education, employment, and social lives. One important choice that each young person will face at some point will be whether or not to use substances.
It is important to understand one key biological fact: the brain is not fully developed until the age of 25, and the last part of the brain to fully develop is the area in charge of complex tasks such as predicting consequences and decision-making. When a young person uses substances before their brain is fully developed, it can have drastic and long-lasting consequences, such as declines in grades, problems with family, losing interest in normal activities, impaired memory, mental health problems, and a risk of overdose. The best way any young person can reduce their risk for addiction in their lifetime is to delay their use of substances until at least 21.
Each person has their own unique and often complex reasons for choosing to use or not use substances. The good news is that every family, school and community has the opportunity to influence a young person’s decisions regarding substance use. These positive influencers are known as ‘protective factors,’ and they include things such as:
Despite these protective factors, however, most people carry at least some risk for using substances. These ‘risk factors’ can include things such as:
It can be helpful to offset these risk factors if young people acknowledge them before starting to use substances. For instance, having conversations at home about a family history of substance use can help young people take into consideration that they might carry more risk for addiction than some of their peers.
If you are a young person and are worried about your own use or a friend’s use, you may consider whether you or your friend…
Additionally, since alcohol continues to be the most common substance used by young people, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) has developed the following 20-question alcohol use disorder test for teenagers. This easy quiz is designed to help teens determine if alcohol and other drugs are impacting their lives.
Answer “yes” or “no” to the questions in this quiz to determine the role alcohol and other drugs play in your life.
According to NCADD, if you answer “yes” to any three of the questions on the alcoholism test for teenagers, you may be at risk for developing alcohol use disorder.
If you answer “yes” to five of the questions on the alcoholism quiz, you should seek professional help. You do have a problem with alcohol and will most likely require some level of treatment to deal with the problem. Talk to your doctor or a counselor, and show them the results of this test.
If you are worried about a friend or a loved one, here are a few tips to support them:
If you are worried about your own use, there are resources listed below that can help! Even though the developing brain can be harmed from substance use, the earlier you reduce or stop using substances, the faster the brain can bounce back! Getting help early can prevent lots of long term, bigger issues. There are local, state and national resources available to youth and young adults that may be struggling with substances.
The Natick Health Department, Natick Public Schools, and the Natick Police Department all have staff members who care and want to help. If you’re looking for an adult who can help you get treatment or support services, you can contact:
The Natick Service Council has a Substance Use Awareness Program is a psychoeducational program for Natick teens who experience challenges related to substance use. To get more information Kathie Fair-Chandley, the Director of Case Management, at email@example.com.
Wayside Youth & Family Support Network’s TEMPO program offers one-stop support for anyone between the ages of 16-25. TEMPO can assist with housing assistance, vocational support, treatment navigation and many other services. Call 508-879-1424 for more information.
The Massachusetts Substance Use Helpline is a state-wide helpline for those struggling for substance misuse and/or looking for treatment for yourself or someone you’re worried about. It includes specialized services just for teens and young adults, such as recovery high schools and tailored inpatient and outpatient treatment settings.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has also put together a resource guide of treatment providers for youth and young adults.
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a group meeting for those who are experiencing problems with drinking. It’s a 12-step program and meetings happen daily.
Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings focus on those who are experiencing drug problems, including teen/young adult meetings.
Herren Project is run by Chris Herren, a former addict who played for the Boston Celtics. His project helps people navigate treatment, allows individuals to reach out directly to a team member at the project about seeking treatment, and has access to online support groups.
The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration offers both information and resources relating to substance use treatment, as well as a national behavioral health treatment locator.
Resources, Tips and Support During COVID-19.
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