chapter  Thirty Seven
4 Pages

Substance misuse

WithQuentin Spender, Niki Salt, Judith Dawkins, Tony Kendrick, Peter Hill, David Hall, Jackie Carnell

Many young people experiment with drugs on a one-off basis, either infrequently or more regularly. Many older schoolchildren try some illegal substance, usually cannabis or ecstasy but only small proportions are regular users. Most adolescents survive a period of drug experimentation relatively unscathed, and do not present to primary care services for any related problems. Only a small number of those who experiment with drugs progress to addiction. A reasonable aim for primary care is 'harm minimisation' - that is, to minimise the risks of current usage, to ensure that adequate information is available and to prevent experimental usage from progressing to problem usage. The young person may require different types of information, such as contact details of local voluntary agencies or sources of free contraceptive advice. Since most drugs counselling agencies require some degree of self-motivation, it is only worth making a referral if one can come to some agreement that the consequences of drug use, are undesirable.