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All about Adolescents in New York!

As I head to New York next week for the 70th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, I cannot help but reflect on the state of addiction in our adolescents.

The prevalence of substance use disorders among adolescents is a concerning public health issue that has garnered increasing attention in recent years. Adolescence is a critical period of development marked by significant physical, emotional, and psychological changes. During this vulnerable phase, many young individuals experiment with substances such as alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, or prescription drugs. Regrettably, a substantial number of adolescents progress to problematic use and develop substance use disorders.

One critical aspect of this issue is the high comorbidity of childhood mental health problems and substance use disorders. Adolescents who suffer from conditions like depression, anxiety, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or conduct disorders are at an elevated risk for engaging in substance abuse as a means of self-medication or coping with their emotional distress. The presence of co-occurring disorders complicates treatment and necessitates an integrated approach to address both issues effectively.

The impact of current substance abuse on an adolescent's life trajectory is profound. It extends beyond physical health concerns to affect various aspects of their life. Relationships with family, peers, and romantic partners can deteriorate as the individual's focus shifts towards obtaining and using substances. Life satisfaction declines, often leading to academic underachievement, emotional instability, and increased risk of legal problems. Additionally, work performance and future prospects are significantly hampered, limiting educational and employment opportunities.

Moreover, early substance use can alter the course of brain development and increase the risk of chronic substance dependence in adulthood. The long-term consequences of substance use disorders in adolescence can result in a persistent cycle of addiction, adversely affecting overall health, economic prospects, and social well-being. To address this issue effectively, there is a critical need for prevention and intervention strategies that target not only substance use but also underlying mental health issues. Providing adolescents with the support and resources they require during this crucial phase of development is essential in ensuring a healthier, more productive future.

Apart from treating comorbid substance use and mental health in adolescents at my clinic, Positive Recovery, I am actively engaged in spreading knowledge about addiction and its management in teenagers. If you are attending the AACAP conference in New York this year (, please come check out my presentations:

1. Motivational Interviewing Advanced Workshop on Thursday, Oct 26

2. Special Interest Group: When Gambling becomes problematic in Adolescents on Friday, Oct 27

3. Buprenorphine 2.0 management in Adolescents on Saturday, Oct 28


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