Adolescents experiencing multiple consequences from their use are likely living with a moderate or severe substance use disorder. Providers should respond by using motivational interviewing to explore patients’ readiness to accept specialized treatment, where they can receive a comprehensive evaluation by a substance use specialist. With the adolescent’s permission, the provider can proactively connect the adolescent and their family with the appropriate professional or program.

Deciding where to refer a student in need of substance use or co-occurring treatment is often complicated by limited availability; lack of developmentally appropriate supports for adolescents; insurance coverage; and preferences of the adolescent and family. SBHCs should develop internal capacity to provide treatment, as well as become familiar with what specialized treatment resources are available in their communities.

The video below explains the referral to treatment process.