Review decision: 

This guidance will be updated

Next review date: This guideline is being updated by the NICE guideline on drugs misuse prevention

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.

Your responsibility

The recommendations in this guideline represent the view of NICE, arrived at after careful consideration of the evidence available. When exercising their judgement, professionals are expected to take this guideline fully into account, alongside the individual needs, preferences and values of their patients or service users. The application of the recommendations in this guideline is not mandatory and the guideline does not override the responsibility of healthcare professionals to make decisions appropriate to the circumstances of the individual patient, in consultation with the patient and/or their carer or guardian.

Local commissioners and/or providers have a responsibility to enable the guideline to be applied when individual health professionals and their patients or service users wish to use it. They should do so in the context of local and national priorities for funding and developing services, and in light of their duties to have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, to advance equality of opportunity and to reduce health inequalities. Nothing in this guideline should be interpreted in a way that would be inconsistent with compliance with those duties.