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"Involved parents are the first line of defense against substance abuse.“ –Sharon Levy, MD, MPH, director of the Adolescent Substance Abuse Program (ASAP) at Boston Children's Hospital
Who we are
The Adolescent Substance Abuse Program (ASAP) at Boston Children’s Hospital provides national leadership in the identification, diagnosis and treatment of substance use problems and disorders in children and adolescents. ASAP is part of the Division of Developmental Medicine, and is staffed by developmental-behavioral trained pediatricians, licensed independent social workers and psychiatrists. ASAP clinicians are uniquely qualified to evaluate and support adolescents with a full range of substance use problems and disorders, from teens who have just begun using substances to those struggling with addiction, and their families.
Adolescence is a time of uncertainty, when young people are establishing their independence and discovering their place in the world. Because of the particular challenges posed by the cognitive and developmental changes that mark adolescence, treatment for adolescent substance use requires a distinctive approach that recognizes and respects adolescents’ desire for independence while understanding the special vulnerabilities of this period of life. ASAP’s approach to substance use is built around our understanding of this important and transitional period in life.
By focusing on a combination of clinical services, research, training, and policy work, ASAP is committed to reducing and preventing substance use disorders and related behaviors in children and adolescents.
Note: ASAP’s drug testing is part of a treatment program. ASAP does not offer one-time drug tests for adolescents outside of the program.
A team approach to care
ASAP’s approach to treating adolescent substance use helps patients and families deal with the root problems that are often responsible for substance problems. ASAP’s team includes psychiatrists and social workers trained to uncover and address the emotional and mental health issues that frequently contribute to young people’s problems with alcohol and drugs. ASAP treats mental health problems and gives patients and their families the tools to cope with emotional distress that sometimes underpins substance use by connecting parents to a network of parents who are dealing with similar issues.
By helping families deal with these psychological issues, the ASAP team helps to prevent young people from returning to substance use down the road. To maintain, confidentiality and build trust, adolescents and parents are assigned to different clinicians who work together to engage and support and the entire family. Our team-based approach ensures that everyone who takes care of your child and family will understand the specific issues and challenges you face and give consistent advice. The multi-disciplinary approach is reflected in the treatment plan, which could include input from experts in pediatrics, child development, education, psychiatry and counseling.
Training and research
ASAP is part of a robust team of faculty and researchers with numerous ongoing studies funded by the National institutes of Health, other federal sources, and private foundations. Our team also provides practical training to clinicians and health care providers throughout the country on various topics, including screening, brief intervention and referral to treatment (SBIRT), brief treatment, and medication assisted therapy for opioid addiction. To read more about ASAP’s research and training, please click here. (Link to mini-site for ASAP training or to research and innovations page)
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