Youth Substance Use

Youth Substance Use

We all want young people to be healthy and have a great future, but too often, alcohol and other drug use among young people are overlooked or ignored rather than treated like the health issue it is. Use of alcohol and other drugs by adolescents significantly increases risk of addiction over the lifetime. Because 90% of adults who are addicted to tobacco, alcohol, or other substances started using before age 18, we can greatly reduce addiction just by pushing back the age at which young people begin to experiment with substances.

UHCAN Ohio is directing its effort at preventing and interrupting substance use through an approach called Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT). Funded by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, we are leading the Somebody Finally Asked Me! campaign to remove policy and financial barriers to the provision of SBIRT in schools.

The SBIRT Approach

Teens are asked simple questions about alcohol and other drug use, followed by brief education or counseling where appropriate. If necessary, a referral to treatment is made. The SBIRT model has support from the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.


    • Eliminate the “free care” barrier to Medicaid reimbursement for SBIRT
    • Elevate the recognition of SBIRT as a complement to “Start Talking” when government officials address the prevention response to the opiate epidemic
    • Facilitate the expansion of SBIRT in by the 2016-17 school year
      • In at least one district in Southern Ohio
      • Four districts in Franklin County
      • In at least one district in Cuyahoga County


    • Commitment of Portsmouth City Schools to pilot SBIRT in its 7th grade
    • Have provided the technical support on SBIRT to move one school board to approve SBIRT in its district in Southwest Ohio
    • Have provided the technical support to move SBIRT forward in 4 Franklin County school districts

Leadership Team

    • Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio
    • Urban Minority Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Outreach Program of Franklin County (UMADAOP)
    • PreventionFIRST!
    • Voices for Ohio’s Children
    • Collegiate Recovery Community
    • Ohio State University
    • Interact for Health
    • Urban Minority Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Outreach Program of Cincinnati Recovery Services (UMADAOP)


    • Ohio Association of School Nurses
    • Ohio Education Association
    • Ohio Citizen Advocates for Addiction Recovery


Conrad N. Hilton Foundation

Hamilton Foundation

Interact for Health

Interact for Health

Ohio Federation of Teachers

Ohio Education Association

Greater Cincinnati Foundation



    • Consumer
    • Activist – Set up a meeting between us and your local school official
    • Partner – Endorse the project
    • Funder
    • Reporter

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