Current Advocacy Efforts to Help Curb Teen Addiction and Substance Abuse

Teen skate boarding

A consistent pattern among adults entering addiction treatment has emerged. Almost all of them first began drinking or using drugs when they were mere teenagers.

“When people start using at younger ages, the changes in brain structure and function are very, very pronounced,” explained Dr. John Knight, founder and director of the Center for Adolescent Substance Abuse Research at Boston Children’s Hospital. “If we could only get kids to postpone their first drink or their first use of drugs, we could greatly diminish the prevalence of addiction in the U.S.”

Hence, there is an increasing need for more preventive and supportive measures to communicate with the youth and warn them of the impending risks. Numerous advocacy campaigns and group both on federal and private level work tirelessly to educate and reach out to teens and young adolescents who are battling a substance use disorder.


Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) representing individuals and entities striving to make their communities safer and drug-free. CADCA constitutes of members in every state and operates in 18 countries around the world.

CADCA’s coalition-based programs support and train young leaders to be work towards change themselves. CADCA’s network of over 5,000 community coalitions brings together prominent leaders within the community to address underage drinking to prescription drug abuse.

Campaigns such as Drug-Free Kids Campaign provide cutting-edge services in training, communications, youth empowerment, veteran’s programs, public policy and advocacy and the latest scientific research.


Teen shoes

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD) is the leading advocacy organization that addresses alcoholism and drug dependence. Since its founding in 1944, NCADD has raised public awareness about addiction throughout the United States and increasingly across the global community. NCADD operates nationally and at the community level.

Today there are almost 100 NCADD Affiliates across the United States.


The National Youth Recovery Foundation (NYRF) is a non-profit organization that works to support young individuals up to age 30 in recovery from drugs and alcohol. The foundation strives to promote a supportive culture for young adults so they can not only recover from addiction, but help them successfully reintegrate into their life. NYRF’s essentially aims to build a funding pool to support programs designed by and for young adults in recovery.


Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) is the nation’s leading peer-to-peer youth education and prevention organization with thousands of establishments in middle schools, high schools and colleges.

1997 saw the expansion of its mission and sponsors in response to requests from SADD students themselves as it continues to promote a firm “No Use” message in regards to alcohol and other drugs.

With an expanded focus, SADD now encompasses prevention of all destructive behaviors and attitudes that are threatening to young people, including underage drinking, substance abuse, impaired driving, violence and suicide.

National Institute on Drug Abuse

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is a national premier research and information provider on drug abuse and addiction in the United States.

NIDA supports most of the world’s research on drug abuse and addiction.

NIDA-funded scientific research addresses the most fundamental and essential questions about drug use, including tracking emerging drug use trends, understanding how drugs work in the brain and body, developing and testing new drug treatment and prevention approaches, and disseminating findings to the general public, researchers, policymakers, and others.


Skateboard and shoes

On July 22, 2016, President Obama signed into law the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act. Being the first major federal addiction legislation in 40 years, CARA is considered the most comprehensive approach to address the opioid epidemic, taking into consideration the six key components, including prevention, treatment, recovery, law enforcement, criminal justice reform and overdose reversal.

The Act allocates over $181 million annually in funding to combat the opioid crisis.

CARA also includes a National Youth Recovery Initiative that authorizes the Secretary of Health and Human Services to allocate grants to eligible entities such as high schools, institutions of higher learning, nonprofit organizations and many others, in order to support recovering individuals in high school or enrolled in institutions of higher learning.

Too Smart to Start

SAMHSA’s Too Smart to Start public education campaign strives to initiate conversations between youth and adults related to underage alcohol use. Furthermore, it prioritizes an environment where youth, parents, and the general public can interact and fully appreciate the ramifications of underage alcohol.

The Too Smart to Start website includes separate sections for youth; teens; and families, educators, and community leaders, each with its particular information and interactive methods.

We Don’t Serve Teens

We Don’t Serve Teens is a campaign designed by the Federal Trade Commission to focus on providing information to high schools, colleges, social services organizations and alcohol industry members to establish teenage alcohol consumption unsafe, illegal and irresponsible.

Campaign materials include press releases, letters to the editor, radio public services announcements, and website click-ons. The campaign website also features facts about underage drinking, relevant laws by state and media tools.

Discussed above are just a few of the many current advocacy efforts underway to curb substance use disorder among young people and teenagers. It is highly encouraged to keep abreast with the latest developments, research and information regarding addiction trends so parents can have timely conversations with their children that may hopefully discourage them for trying underage consumption of alcohol and/or drugs.


Sana Ahmed photoAbout the Author:  

A journalist and social media savvy content writer with wide research, print and on-air interview skills, Sana Ahmed has previously worked as staff writer for a renowned rehabilitation institute focusing on mental health and addiction recovery, a content writer for a marketing agency, an editor for a business magazine and been an on-air news broadcaster.

Sana graduated with a Bachelors in Economics and Management from London School of Economics and began a career of research and writing right after. The art of using words to educate, stir emotions, create change and provoke action is at the core of her career, as she strives to develop content and deliver news that matters.



The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on April 2, 2017
Published on

About Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC

Jacquelyn Ekern founded Addiction Hope in January, 2013, after experiencing years of inquiries for addiction help by visitors to our well regarded sister site, Eating Disorder Hope. Many of the eating disorder sufferers that contact Eating Disorder Hope also had a co-occurring issue of addiction to alcohol, drugs, and process addictions.