For far too long, substance use and mental health disorders have been segregated form the rest of healthcare, at a policy and programmatic level. This segregation has resulted in consistently underfunded programs and a national approach that has been plagued by stigma. But the good news is that now, like no other time in our history, we have the chance to change the way in which substance use disorders are perceived and managed. The public demand for change is growing, and you can be a part of that movement.
We have complied the tools and resources for individuals and communities to become empowered and truly advocate on behalf of a loved one dealing with a substance use disorder. Systemic change can only be achieved through coordinated and multifaceted efforts. And as we have learned from other previously stigmatized diseases, the role of advocacy in driving change is critical. Change is possible – if we come together to demand the change that our kids deserve.
Two major pieces of legislation that now make it possible to integrate substance use and mental health disorders into the rest of healthcare include the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the Mental Health Parity and Addiction equity Act (Parity Act). ACA requires providers and insurers to implement and cover the full range of prevention, early intervention and care management services for substance use disorders in virtually all health care organizations. The Parity Act requires that care for substance use disorders have generally the same type, duration, range of service options and patient financial burden as the care currently available to patients with comparable physical illnesses. These pieces of legislation serve as a defining launch pad for to provide us with a real opportunity to focus significant national attention and funding towards developing an infrastructure for preventing and treating adolescent substance use disorder. Learn about additional current legislation movements. View Resources
Young people are entitled to a full range of prevention, early intervention and management services for substance use disorders that are on par with those provided for other chronic illnesses through these laws. Under the ACA, dependent coverage is extended under a parent’s healthcare plan until the age of 26 years, placing much of the financial and decision-making responsibility on the entire family. Know your rights as a consumer. Understand the care your child should receive. Find resources to help you make decisions on behalf of your child. View Resources
As a community, we can increase awareness, reduce the stigma and improve the quality and transparency within adolescent substance use prevention, treatment and recovery. By working together, we can stand behind initiatives that are important, push to move legislation forward, and tell our stories. We hope that you will make collaboration a priority. Together, we can create the change that is needed, and that will lead to important and sustained changes in the way care is delivered to adolescents and young adults who are at risk for, who have abused, and who are recovering from substance use. Shaping the future for this vulnerable population is in our hands and our kids are counting on us. View Resources