In September 2013, the Vermont Department of Health, Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Programs, was awarded a four-year federally-funded Cooperative Agreement with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
Vermont ranks among the top 10 states in alcohol use, binge drinking and marijuana use in both the 12-17 age group and the 18-25 age group. These issues are of extremely high concern, given that Vermont's 18- to 25-year-olds rank first in the nation in three categories.
Youth with mental health issues are much more likely to choose to use. For example, 2011 student survey data reports that:
- Those students who reported "feeling sad or hopeless for two or more weeks in the past year" were 50 percent more likely to report drinking in the past 30 days, and
- Those students who reported having attempted suicide in the past year were 85 percent more likely to report drinking in the past 30 days.
Increasing access to treatment
The 2010-2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health data estimates that 5 percent of 12-17 year olds and 17 percent of 18-24 year olds need treatment, but are not receiving it. Compared to national estimates, over time, Vermont has consistently had a greater proportion of individuals, age 12 and older, needing and not receiving drug and alcohol treatment (Office of Applied Studies, 2008). Among 18-25 year olds, Vermont ranks among the top 10 states with the highest estimated need for, but not receiving treatment for, substance use.
Responding to the needs of the underserved
Populations that present as less "ready" to engage in treatment - for example, adolescents - receive less focus and attention. In some parts of the state, less than one full-time equivalent employee is dedicated to providing services to adolescents (12-17), as existing resources are assigned to other populations that have contemplated and are more prepared to address substance use or mental health disorders.
Vermont Substance Abuse Treatment Information System data shows that from 2007 to 2012, the total number of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Programs-funded adolescents had dropped by one-third and the total number of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Programs-funded transitional-aged youth had dropped by 14 percent. This dynamic exists within an environment where use of marijuana among Vermont's adolescents is the second highest in the nation, and binge drinking among transitional-aged youth is the highest in the nation.