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A Framework for Integrating Young Peers in Recovery into Adolescent Substance Use Prevention and Early Intervention

As rates of substance use among young adults increase in America, there is a need for intervention and recovery programs. These researchers looked at implementing a program called Project Amp: Amplifying Our Futures. This program is a youth-centered program that consists of brief intervention. It specifically addresses youth that may not otherwise receive any type of support or recovery help. This program has found that it is helpful to use trained young adult peers as interventional support for those going through substance abuse.

            The program centers around a framework called SBIRT. This stands for Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment. The hope is that through peer mentors, they can relate through their own experiences to provide support as well as foster hope and connection. Another impact that these peers can make is on prevention of young adult substance abuse by helping adolescents recognize the risk before using illegal substances. In this study, the research team created a short mentorship intervention by young adult peers. The mentors ranged from the age of 18-28 and those being mentored ranged from the age of 13-17 with low-moderate risk of substance abuse. They used data gained from this mentorship to create the framework for Project Amp.

            Project Amp was then implemented with 28 adolescents. They conducted the study at three healthcare sites and three school-based sites. Through the study they found that there was positive response with the adolescents. They also found that through mentoring, the mentors themselves had a positive influence when it came to their own recovery. While most of these results are preliminary, this young adult peer guided approach shows promise to be helpful in adolescent substance use prevention and early intervention.

Take Away: Rates of substance use among young adults in America are increasingly high. Negative outcomes (long and short-term) can also follow substance use. This study looks at a young adult peer led mentorship program and its effectiveness in substance use prevention and early intervention. They found that through peer mentorship, the adolescents relate more easily and pull from the mentor’s own experiences. While preliminary results show positive trends in the effectiveness of this framework, more research needs to be completed to increase the scale of the approach.

Paquette, K. L., Winn, L. A. P., Wilkey, C. M., Ferreira, K. N., & Donegan, L. R. W. (2019). A framework for integrating young peers in recovery into adolescent substance use prevention and early intervention. Addictive Behaviors, 99, 106080. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2019.106080

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