In the field of Substance Use/Abuse, early intervention refers to the services and supports available to prevent substance use from progressing to a substance use disorder, where the possibilities of financial, health, legal, social, relational problems can be severe.
Early intervention can occur at various ages as the age for the initiation of drug use is not set in stone.
Adolescents and young adults may get involved in substance use through curiosity, as a result of peer pressure, to fit in, to present the “cool” persona, to numb unpleasant emotions, or for recreational use. While not everyone who uses a substance will develop a substance use disorder, research has shown that the younger persons start using substances (before age 18) they are more likely to develop a drug problem.
Even though a concern among all age groups, substance use among adolescents is of great concern and it is a critical time for early intervention because this is a period characterized by growth and maturation of the brain and the body.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, using drugs during this period of life has more potential to disrupt brain function in areas critical to motivation, memory, learning, judgment, and behaviour control. Frequent use of substances among adolescents has been associated with social, learning, and memory problems as well as lower intelligent quotient scores. Even when use has ceased, the problems do not always go away. Studies have also revealed that the use of some substances during this period has been associated with mental health issues such as depression or anxiety.
If you believe your teenage son or daughter has started to experiment or use substances this is a critical time to do something about it to reach out for help. If you are beyond the teenage years and you need help with your substance use it is not too late to reach out for help. We encourage you to reach out for help. At the NCSA, we provide screening to identify substance use, related problems, to provide early intervention, or to direct clients to appropriate services.
When we talk about prevention, this refers to the provision of knowledge, attitudes, and skills needed to help individuals make healthy and good choices.
At the NCSA our prevention programmes seek to do this. You can visit our Community and Drug Education Tabs to see what we do in this area. There you will see that the approach to demand reduction is more than treatment and encompasses prevention activities. Remember that adage prevention is better than cure? Here we seek to reduce the number of persons who will be considering drug use to reduce the social, economic, legal and other problems associated with drug use and abuse.
Intervention in substance use/abuse refers to the help given to individuals who are using and misusing substances. Screening, out-patient counselling (individual, group, or family), referrals to other service providers or support systems are some of the interventions provided by the NCSA to assist with the reduction or the cessation of substance use.