Adolescents presenting with substance use is increasingly commonplace. Fortunately, GPs are equally well placed to manage substance use with early intervention offering the greatest opportunity for positive behaviour change into adulthood. Effective approaches to prevention and intervention should be strengths-based, aimed at increasing protection, reducing risk factors and building resilience. Engaging the adolescent is crucial and success depends on tailoring brief interventions that are evidence-based, age appropriate and where possible, involve the family and community.
Cannabis is the most commonly used illicit drug in Australia; tobacco smoking the leading cause of preventable death; and alcohol the most common primary drug of concern, accounting for most drug-related hospital episodes in 2018.1 Equally concerning are the rising number of deaths due to methamphetamine and other stimulant use and the risk of overdose related to opioids, benzodiazepines and prescription medications.1 These are sombre statistics that tell a story of a burgeoning health crisis marked by early initiation, easy access, increasing risk-taking behaviours and polysubstance use.