Review decision: 

This guidance will be updated

 Next review date: TBC

This guidance is for NHS practitioners and others involved in reducing substance misuse among vulnerable and disadvantaged children and young people under the age of 25. They may work in the NHS, local authorities or the education, voluntary, community, social care, youth and criminal justice sectors.

The guidance focuses on community-based activities taking place in, for example, schools and youth services.

The recommendations include:

  • Develop a local strategy
  • Use existing tools to identify children and young people who are misusing, or at risk of misusing, substances.
  • Work with parents and carers and other organisations involved with children and young people to provide support and, where necessary, to refer them to other services.
  • Offer motivational interviews to those who are misusing substances.
  • Offer group-based behavioural therapy to children aged 10–12 years  who are persistently aggressive or disruptive  – and deemed at high risk of misusing substances. Offer their parents or carers group-based parent skills training.
  • Offer a family-based programme of structured support to children aged 11–16 years who are disadvantaged and deemed at high risk of substance misuse.

This guideline was previously called interventions to reduce substance misuse among vulnerable young people.