Objective: Mental health care providers are in a unique position to detect, prevent, and offer brief interventions
for adolescents with substance use problems. While substance use and mental health disorders commonly co-occur, few
pediatric mental health professionals possess the necessary training to identify and treat substance use issues. The goal of
this paper is to provide guidance for mental health professionals working with adolescents on how to detect, intervene,
and refer adolescents for substance use treatment.
Method: A series of clinical case examples and vignettes provide scenarios for helping educate providers in screening for
substance use, preventing/delaying substance use initiation, delivering brief early interventions, and motivating adolescents
for specialized substance use treatment when necessary.
Conclusions: The importance of discussing substance use with each adolescent, being attuned to common warning signs
of substance use, taking caution in prescribing medications with abuse potential, importance of family involvement, and
use of motivational interviewing techniques are discussed.