Abnormal Child & Adolescent Psychology

Resources for students and teachers...

10. Substance Use Disorders in Adolescents

Learning Objectives

Describe the key features of substance use disorders in adolescents and explain how adolescent and adult

substance use problems differ.


Determine the prevalence of adolescent substance use, substance use problems, and substance use disorders.


Outline three major pathways for the development of substance use disorders in adolescents.


Evaluate the effectiveness of interventions designed to prevent substance use problems in adolescents.

Differentiate among the major approaches to treatment, such as 12-step treatment, cognitive–behavior relapse prevention, motivational interviewing, and family therapy.

Note: The number before each objective shows its corresponding module in the text.


Ready to Study? Click here to access flashcards for key terms presented in the text. Flashcards are a great way to help you define, explain, and give examples of important terms and ideas. (You may need to create a free Quizlet account to access the flashcards.)

Test Your Critical Thinking

Ready to Review? Click here to review each of the research questions presented in the text. Review questions are a great way to test your application and critical thinking skills.


Adolescent Substance Use

Smashed: Toxic Tales of Teens and Alcohol is a documentary produced by HBO and co-sponsored by Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD).

Psychosocial Treatment

In this excellent video for parents, Dr. Ken Winters (University of Minnesota) discusses evidence-based psychosocial treatments for adolescents with substance use problems.  

Multidimensional Family Therapy

This video shows segments of a session with Dr. Howard Liddle (developer of MDFT) and a family experiencing substance use problems.

Learn More

APA Division 28: Psychopharmacology and Substance Abuse

The APA’s Division of Psychopharmacology and Substance Abuse promotes teaching, research, and dissemination of information regarding the effects of drugs on behavior. It is an organization of professionals who study psychoactive substances and drugs in the laboratory, clinic, and community. On this website, try to locate the most recent edition of their newsletter to read the latest activities of the division members.

Monitoring the Future

Monitoring the Future is an ongoing study of the behaviors, attitudes, and values of American secondary school students, college students, and young adults. MTF data are used to determine substance use norms and trends among youth in the United States. You can read overviews of their most recent studies or access the full length reports to answer specific questions about adolescent substance use.

National Institute on Drug Abuse

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health, maintains an excellent website about substance use, abuse, and dependence in the United States. On this site, you can find information about all of the major classes of drugs, their effects on the body, and ways to treat substance use disorders. Try beginning with the section entitled, “Students and Young Adults” for introductory information on nicotine, alcohol, and marijuana. Then, explore the NIDA site entitled, Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction, to learn more about the biological bases of addictive behavior.

Partnership for a Drug Free America

The Partnership for a Drug Free America’s website is a clearinghouse for information concerning substance use and abuse among youths in the United States. The site also offers personal accounts of substance use problems in video format.