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Healthcare professionals and partners

Young people

Very few young people develop dependency. Those who use drugs or alcohol problematically are likely to be vulnerable and experiencing a range of problems, of which substance misuse is one. This means that the commissioning and delivery of specialist drug and alcohol interventions for young people should take place within the wider children and young people’s agenda. The aim is that all needs are met, rather than addressing substance misuse in isolation; and that intervention is successful before problematic use becomes entrenched.

Young people and their needs differ from adults:

  • The majority of young people accessing specialist drug and alcohol interventions have problems with alcohol (37%) and cannabis (53%), requiring psychosocial, harm reduction and family interventions, rather than treatment for addiction, which most adults but only a small minority of young people require.
  • Most young people need to engage with specialist drug and alcohol interventions for a short period of time, often weeks, before continuing with further support elsewhere, within an integrated young people’s care plan. 

The NTA is now part of Public Health England, an executive agency of the Department of Health. For more information about PHE go to

The information below relates to the work of the NTA prior to April 2013.


Practice standards on the care of young people with substance misuse problems.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists has published new practice standards on the care of young people with substance misuse problems.

The new standards have been developed by the Royal College of Psychiatrists' Centre for Quality Improvement (CCQI) in partnership with substance misuse organisations, paediatricians, psychologists and nurses.


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