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Impact of Covid-19 on adolescent substance use and addiction

Impact of Covid-19 on adolescent substance use and addiction

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Early intervention

The lack of structure and in-person learning for adolescents over the past year and a half have left them with a lot of free time on their hands – and often limited supervision.

While parents either left the house for their jobs or were tied to their computers as they worked virtually, it may have been difficult for them to monitor their children’s actions. And without school or extracurricular activities, teachers, coaches, and school counselors were unavailable to help.

“I speculate that come September, with many eyes back on our kids, we are in for a world of hurt,” said Jodie Altman, Deputy Executive Director of Kids Escaping Drugs Renaissance Campus (KED). “There will definitely be a rise in mental health and addiction issues with an increased need for early intervention.”

Even during this past June, when kids went back to the classroom full-time or were based on a hybrid model, there was a noticeable uptick in the early intervention referrals to KED, averaging five or six a week compared to the usual two or three.

Sources of referrals will also be different now. During Covid, there was a reliance on families to identify their children’s at-risk behaviors. Once we return to in-person classes, we anticipate more referrals from school administrators and the legal system resulting in an influx of early interventions and admissions.

“We don’t know what our young people have experienced during Covid,” added Altman. “These kids could have trauma due to loss of life or may have even suffered some type of abuse.”

It is essential to quickly identify adolescents who may be struggling with substance use and addiction to get them the critical support they need.

Kids Escaping Drugs offers no-cost early interventions and free treatment assessments. The Early Intervention program includes a peer-to-peer discussion with adolescents in recovery, which has proven highly effective.

“Kids in recovery are more relatable to someone their own age in crisis because they have been there and got the help they needed,” Altman adds.

If you are concerned that your adolescent is struggling with substance use, call Kids Escaping Drugs at 716-827-9462. You will never be wrong for being proactive and it could save your child’s life. 

Signs of substance abuse include changes in:

  • Behavior
  • Friend groups
  • Hygiene
  • Diet

It can be difficult for families to know if these changes are a result of Covid or substance use that requires early intervention. Talking to your children is key. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.


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