A Framework to Integrating Young Peers in Recovery Into Adolescent Substance Use Prevention and Early Intervention

April 13, 2022
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Kristen L. Paquette, Laura A. Pannella Winn, Catriona M. Wilkey, Kathleen N. Ferreira, & Laura Rose W. Donegan

While SBIRT has emerged as a promising public health framework and there is a growing body of research to support its use with adolescents, healthcare settings, schools, and community-based settings are slow to adapt SBIRT. These settings often cite gaps in knowledge and capacity to deliver evidence-based substance use prevention and early intervention as well as a lack of treatment and recovery support resources necessary for youth who screen as high-risk. This article features Project Amp, an extended, four session brief intervention for low to moderate risk adolescents delivered by trained young adult peers, to demonstrate the value of young adult peer roles in expanding youth substance use prevention and early intervention. The authors contend that peers are well positioned to engage youth in discussion, intervention, and support specific to substance use related risk given their near-peer age and training. Baseline and follow-up data collected as part of a feasibility research study indicate that young peers are valuable to supporting prevention and early intervention efforts in youth-serving settings. The authors note that this study is not generalizable though and thus, further research is needed to explore roles for young peers in youth-serving settings and to determine effectiveness.