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Substance use disorder is a disease that affects not only the person with the disorder, but their entire family, friends and communities. In this Q&A, Amy Yule, MD, medical director of the Addiction Recovery Management Service (ARMs) at Massachusetts General Hospital shares tips on how to spot signs of substance use disorder in teens and young adults. She also shares tips on how to support your child if they do struggle with substance use disorder and common treatments.
Substance use disorder occurs when a person’s use of drugs or alcohol interfere with their ability to carry out their daily activities, such as work or school. It can also cause serious health concerns or, in some cases, overdose and death. Substance use occurs along a continuum or spectrum. It ranges from no use of drugs or alcohol to limited, regular or problematic use.
Many teens and young adults do not receive treatment for substance use disorder. In many cases, there is a stigma (when someone views you in a negative way because of a certain trait, feature, decision or behavior) against people who have substance use disorders. In other cases, some teens and young adults do not see their substance use disorder as a problem. They might also not see themselves at risk for developing or having a substance use disorder. Most people seek help for their substance use disorder when there is an issue at home or in school. They might also seek help if they have legal issues or mental health concerns.
Common treatments include:
The ARMS Clinic at Mass General is an outpatient, dual diagnosis clinic with a multidisciplinary team of clinical psychiatrists, psychologists and masters-level social workers who care for teens and young adults ages 14-26 who struggle with substance use disorders and their families. They provide care for substance use disorders and mental health, monitor patients’ progress and assist with relapse. They can also help patients and families navigate the treatment system.
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