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The Role of Youth-Serving Providers in Substance Use Prevention

Youth-Serving Provider

Youth-serving providers have the unique opportunity to create a space for young people to grow into their values, develop their independence and flourish. By normalizing conversations about substance use and the connection it can have to health, school, finances and relationships, providers can help anticipate emerging issues that a young person could face and provide guidance. This can be accomplished by delivering information about the benefits of healthy lifestyle choices and practices.

Early identification and intervention of youth substance use decreases the likelihood of developing a substance use disorder in the future and experiencing consequences related to the use of alcohol and other drugs.

Knowing what information young people want and need can open doors to productive conversations. Knowing how to offer that information allows providers to make the best use of that opening. The resources within this toolkit are to support youth-serving providers in communicating with youth through meaningful conversation.

Community-based Organization or Coalition

To support youth substance use prevention, communities must take a comprehensive and coordinated public and social health approach to incorporate the entire sphere of youth experience, including considerations for the experiences of youth who are underserved, particularly BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) and LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning, and others) youth. CBOs and coalitions have a unique and critical role in supporting substance use prevention, maximizing the impact of regular touchpoints, leveraging pre-established relationships with trusted adults and reinforcing healthy protective factors. Opportunities abound to relate substance use prevention messaging with youth service populations: whether reinforcing the value of optimum health for hobbies, encouraging healthy peer relationships, identifying risk factors via casual, caring conversations or linking to formalized behavioral health supports.

Messaging can be tailored to the nature of how a CBO or coalition engages with youth and prime settings to connect with youth due to the positive relationships with trusted adult staff and volunteers. CBO and coalition staff possess a depth of understanding of the youth experience in their community and have the potential to make a big impact. The combination of staff commitment to youth wellbeing, established rapport and local insight creates an indispensable opportunity to contribute to positive youth development, free of substance use.

Check out these quick videos to learn more about your role as a youth-serving provider in substance use prevention.

This project is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $2,000,000 with 100% funded by CDC/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement by, CDC/HHS or the U.S. Government.