Substance Use Prevention and Treatment Program

About Substance Use

Drugs and alcohol can have a dire impact on the growing adolescent brain, especially one that is already affected by childhood trauma. Adolescent substance use is a major public health concern. Here are a few statistics that help tell the story:

  • Marijuana use among teens has risen in the past three years
  • Roughly one in fifteen high school seniors today is a current daily, or near-daily, marijuana user
  • “Club Drugs” such as Cocaine, LSD, and Ecstasy (MDMA are as prevalent among youth today as they were in the 1980s
  • Alcohol remains the most widely used substance and most problematic in teens
  • Recent statistics indicate that 22 percent of high school seniors are binge drinking (five or more drinks in a row on at least one occasion in a two week period) [source]

Community-based education that is designed to demonize drugs can often have the opposite result—causing drugs to appear more enticing to the risk-taking nature of teenagers. Scare tactics may prevent some teens from drinking or using drugs but does little to convince others that “drugs are bad” and the messengers often lose credibility.

The Substance Use Prevention and Treatment Program in the Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine leverages some of the more effective ways of addressing drug and substance abuse and misuse among teens. Our Outpatient Service program is Licensed by the State Department of Health Care Services, Certification number 190473AN with expiration date 05-31-2025.

Our Approach

Our Approach to Substance Use Prevention and Treatment Services

  1. We provide accurate, age-appropriate information concerning drugs and alcohol to youth, their parents, and the community.
  2. We work to normalize healthy curiosity, risk-taking behaviors and the natural adolescent desire to become more independent of their caretakers.
  3. We provide a formal assessment that includes a look at risk and protective factors within the context of each individual’s use. This helps teens understand their use on on a continuum of severity from non-use to dependent use.
  4. We combine the latest science and research with practical experiences and insights gained over decades of work youth to address underage drinking and drug use. We endorse a basic philosophy that promotes safety first while encouraging youth to remain drug and alcohol free.


Our state-certified program aims to reduce alcohol and drug-related harm in an outpatient approach. We serve youth ages 10-17 and young adults ages 18-25 by offering education and support to their families and significant others. Our innovative approaches to prevention, treatment, and recovery demonstrate best practices in adolescent addiction medicine.

  • Standardized screening and assessment
  • All youth are screened utilizing standardized screening and assessment tools to match youth to services.
  • Comprehensive and Integrated services
  • We offer a comprehensive, integrated approach to care by providing psychiatry and medical services including HIV testing and treatment and pregnancy prevention and education.
  • Family focused - To promote the most lasting changes, we promote family involvement. We offer treatment interventions that incorporate
  • Evidence Based Interventions, such as Motivational Interviewing and Guiding Good Choices Curriculum, are applied to effectively provide prevention and treatment services to youth and families.
  • Developmentally appropriate - Our services are provided within the context of healthy adolescent development. Adolescents are by nature curious and prone to risk taking and questionable judgment. We know that most are trying to master separation and individuation, which many practice by challenging authority, rules and restrictions. We focus on strengths and assets, promote independent and healthy decision making, and offer life skills training.
  • Designed to engage and retain youth
  • Adolescents are generally not interested in receiving our services, especially when most referrals come from parents, teachers or probation officers. Our program is designed to engage and motivate youth to make an internal commitment to change. We offer alcohol and other drug (AOD) free activities that promote wellness and recovery, leadership and community involvement to promote self-efficacy.
  • Qualified staff
  • The direct service treatment staff have a masters degree in social work or psychology or are registered or certificated in addition counseling. Each member of our team is trained and experienced in adolescent development, substance abuse prevention and treatment, complex trauma and mental health.
  • Gender informed and culturally competent - We offer gender specific groups for boys and girls where each youth has a voice in a safe space to talk about their issues.
  • We have bilingual Spanish-speaking and culturally competent staff to match our high percentage of Latino families.   

Referral Process

Youth are referred to our Substance Use Prevention and Treatment Services Program from various sources:

  • Parents
  • Schools
  • Superior Court
  • Informal Probation
  • Probation Officers
  • Department of Child and Family Services
  • Other youth-serving agencies
  • Self-referral

Walk-In Clinic time TBD.

Please call 323-361-2463 to schedule an appointment.

Youth are seen individually and/or with parent and guardian during the intake. It is during this assessment period that we determine what services best meet the needs of the youth and his or her family/guardians. Youth are asked if they are receiving treatment services elsewhere in the community to avoid duplication of services. The program gives priority to clients referred by the Department of Family and Children’s Services (DCFS) and Probation, youth who are HIV-positive, pregnant teens, homeless youth and those who are suicidal or in acute crisis.


Meter street parking is available. Underground visitor parking is also available (only 1 hour of validation provided).

Walk-In Screenings

Due to COVID-19 restrictions screenings and assessments are by appointment. Walk-In Clinic time TBD.

Please call 323-361-2463 to schedule an appointment.