As a state, Missouri continues to experience one of the worst drug epidemics in modern history—and the COVID-19 pandemic only worsened the situation for adolescents and adults in the region.
With more teens feeling sad, hopeless, anxious, and depressed, many are turning to drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism. To effectively support teens struggling with substance misuse, early intervention programs play a critical role.
PreventEd’s GuidEd program is a no-cost counseling option for teens under the age of 19. Teens and their parents or caregivers will meet with a counselor, complete an assessment, and develop an effective plan that supports both the teen and their family.
Why Early Intervention Matters
Although many teens in Missouri are struggling with substance misuse, not all teens are facing a substance use disorder. In Missouri, the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics found that 35,000 or 7.46% of 12- to 17-year-olds in Missouri reported using drugs. Of those, 77.14% reported using marijuana and 9.17% reported using alcohol.
However, instead of punitive reactions to substance misuse, such as jail or expulsion from school, teens benefit greatly from supportive guidance, education, and counseling. By learning how to make good decisions, processing emotions in a healthy way, and feeling confident in their choices, teens are empowered to abstain from substances.
One review found that the most common elements of successful prevention programs included substantial amounts of interaction between instructors and students, learning and practicing social skills to refuse drugs, and engaging with peer leaders.
For many students who may be starting to show early signs of substance misuse, a non-punitive and community-based approach is transformative. By helping teens better understand how their choices impact their brains, bodies, and futures, we can help shift the power back into their hands—so they feel empowered with decision-making control and practical knowledge.
About the GuidEd Program
GuidEd, the only true early intervention program in Eastern Missouri, is designed for teens who are making risky or unhealthy decisions around substances. The program offers early intervention services for teens between the ages of 12 and 19 in the St. Louis area who are exhibiting early signs of alcohol, cannabis, nicotine or other substance misuse
Most early intervention programs are based in treatment centers and require a substance use disorder (SUD) diagnosis before an adolescent can participate in the program. Teens in GuidEd do not have to be seeking treatment for a substance use disorder or even require outside resources like counseling or self-help groups.
Instead, GuidEd is intentionally designed to provide teens with a supportive course correction to prevent future substance use disorders from developing. Our program encourages teens to re-engage with their families, communities, and teachers, leading to long-term positive outcomes.
How It Works
Many St. Louis area school districts use GuidEd as an alternative to severe disciplinary action. School personnel who may be concerned about a teen’s substance use can refer them to GuidEd as a next step for support. Parents who are concerned about their teen’s substance use can also call and make an appointment to receive an unbiased expert opinion of what is best for their teen.
GuidEd is provided at no cost to families. Contact us at (314) 962-3456 to make an appointment.
The first step is to receive an initial assessment. In addition, a counselor will also conduct interviews with the teen to learn about their history, individual risk factors, and current challenges.
Following the initial assessment, counselors will make an appropriate referral for teens and their families. If substance use disorder treatment is recommended, the counselor will discuss treatment options. If there is no level of concern, teens are not referred to any additional services.
In many cases, teens fall somewhere in the middle—and then counselors recommend the GuidEd program, which includes:
- Weekly individual and family substance use counseling sessions
- Weekly workshops for teens on topics ranging from addiction to stress management
- Tutoring and academic support
- Relevant referrals
- Education for caregivers surrounding substance use topics
Making an Impact
Since 2014, our GuidEd program has served over 750 participants and teens and families have reported highly positive outcomes.
More than 77% of our participants successfully abstain from substance use throughout their time in the GuidEd program and 75% continue to abstain six months later. Participation in the program also has an impact on better educational performance and improved relationships with family members, friends, and caregivers.
We believe that the more support teens have, the better equipped they will be to make positive, healthy choices.
To get in touch with a counselor or make a referral, call us at (314) 962-3456 or click here to reach out via email.