The effects of substance abuse on children and youth have many adverse emotional and psychological ramifications. From behavioral challenges to neglect or even physical abuse, families need support through therapy and education to cope and recover. As the risk factors of substance abuse are broad and the abuse itself can include a variety of substances in many forms, comprehensive prevention, intervention, and treatment options are critical to the success of families and communities.
To support children’s mental health in Jackson County, Children’s Services Fund (CSF) supports organizations who offer outpatient substance use treatment. These funds are used to help children struggling to cope with parents who abuse substances and children or adolescents experimenting with or abusing substances themselves.
Substance Use vs. Abuse
Many people use the terms “substance use” and “substance abuse” interchangeably, but they are different.
Substance use is legal in the United States for several substances. Recreational drugs (like alcohol, caffeine, and marijuana) are commonly enjoyed socially at an occasional dinner
Substance users graduate into substance abuse when they consistently consume amounts that are beyond medical or legal guidelines, causing impaired driving for example. Consistent abuse can lead to addiction further down the road. And when the pursuit of substances consumes an individual, addiction treatment is needed.
Benefits of Outpatient Substance Use Treatment
Abused substances can include any single substance — like drugs, alcohol, marijuana, nicotine — as well as a combination of substances. When it comes to youth especially, the uses can begin with family, pressure from peers, the need to relieve stress, or even the desire for high-level achievements that lead to abusing prescribed or over-the-counter drugs.
All of these uses expose the need for treatment options that truly help. With a variety of available options and methods, the benefits of outpatient substance use treatment can help parents, teens and children in several capacities:
- Stay in the home
- Maintain employment
- Detox from substances
- Receive help and guidance that are cost effective
- Get support from their family, the community and their social networks
In order to support the mental health and social-emotional wellbeing of the most kids and families possible, Children’s Services Fund allows partner organizations to offer outpatient treatment according to the services they do best and what families and kids need most. Outpatient programs can be structured in many ways, including:
- Assessments and evaluations
- Early interventions
- Educational groups
- Group or individual counseling
- Group family therapy
Depending on the depth of abuse and age of the child or teen, it’s important for communities to offer treatment models addressing specific needs.
Early Childhood Treatment
Research shows adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) can have an effect on brain development, and subsequently, how children process strong emotions. Family history plays a key role in these adverse effects, placing kids at greater risk for developing a disorder themselves, being the subject of child maltreatment, or even being involved in child welfare.
- According to the National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare, about 1 in 8 children (or 8.7 million kids) in the U.S. under age 17 are living in households with at least one parent who has a substance use disorder.
- Yale University School of Medicine reported that first-degree relatives of alcoholics have eight times the risk of developing alcoholism than individuals without a family link.
The Need for Substance Use Intervention in Jackson County
Based on research from the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics, the need for youth intervention is clear.
- Drug use increased 61% among 8th graders between 2016 and 2020.
- 62% of teenagers in 12th grade have abused alcohol.
- 50% of teenagers have misused a drug at least once.
- Marijuana is one of the most commonly used illicit substances among youth. Of the nearly 63% of 12th graders who used marijuana in the last year, did so via vaping.
- Among the 35,000 Missouri teens age 12-17 who reported using drugs in the last month, over 77% report using marijuana.
- Missouri teens are more likely to use alcohol than the average U.S. teen their age.
Not only does the abuse of substances affect adolescents’ behavior and physical health, but left untreated, the risk factors can be costly: mental health disorders, financial trouble, legal trouble, and in some cases, homelessness or suicide. In fact, suicide is the second leading cause of death among youth ages 15-19.
Early intervention will most likely have the greatest impact. And support from family, social circles, educational institutions, and the community are critical to outpatient treatment success for any child, parent, or family.
Substance Abuse Prevention
The best scenario is to prevent substance abuse or misuse before it starts. Education is the primary way families, communities and schools can help. Through providing resources and insights, local partner organizations help people understand the signs of substance abuse, provide affordable outpatient treatment options, and connect individuals and families to those who can help them most. In this way, substance abuse prevention programs:
- Enhance protective factors and reverse or reduce risk factors
- Educate about all forms of drug use — legal, illegal, combination, prescribed, over-the-counter
- Address substance use issues in their community and local schools
How CSF is Helping Fund Jackson County Organizations
As substance use can be a component of broader issues, Children’s Services Fund provides funding for organizations who offer prevention and treatment services as part of a holistic approach to helping children and families in Jackson County. A few of our partner organizations include:
- Comprehensive Mental Health Services
- First Call
- St Lukes Crittenon Children’s Center
- The Family Conservancy
- And many more . . .