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Substance Abuse

State Substance Abuse Services

Within the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, the Division of Substance Abuse Services and the Office of Treatment and Recovery Services oversee a statewide system of services for the treatment of people whose use of alcohol and/or other drugs has resulted in patterns of abuse or dependence.

Services and goals include:

  • Outreach
  • Early identification and intervention
  • Assessment
  • Placement and movement within appropriate levels of treatment
  • Aftercare and support services during recovery

Treatment services for adolescents include residential, day and outpatient programs.

Find links to state substance abuse services.

Find links and more information regarding substance abuse and treatment from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

About Adolescents and Substance Abuse

Teens who use alcohol and other drugs are more likely to experience unintentional injuries, physical fights, and academic and occupational problems, and to commit illegal acts. Studies show that about 20 percent of Tennessee high school students report that they drank alcohol before they were 13; almost 19 percent have engaged in binge drinking in the last month; and about 20 percent took prescription drugs one or more times without a doctor’s prescription.

There are many factors that influence substance abuse in teens:

  • Age when first use occurs (especially alcohol)
  • Parental use
  • Family problems
  • Peer influence

However, conduct and behavior problems are the strongest predictors of alcohol and drug abuse. Self-medication and drug use also increase the occurrence of more serious mental disorders and suicide.

A 2008 White House report found that depressed teens were more than twice as likely as nondepressed teens to have used marijuana. Depressed teens were also nearly twice as likely to use other illegal drugs, or to abuse or become dependent on marijuana.

Risk factors include:

  • Community factors: Availability of drugs and economic challenges
  • Family factors: History of substance abuse, conflict, parents’ attitudes toward and/or involvement with substance abuse
  • School factors: Academic failure beginning in late elementary school, lack of commitment to school
  • Individual or peer factors: Early and persistent antisocial behavior, friends who are substance users/abusers, starting substance abuse early

Protective factors include:

  • Resilient temperament (they adapt well to stress)
  • Engagement in learning and school
  • Abilities, talents and skills, which contribute to a sense of competence and build self-esteem
  • Engagement in family relationships and activities

What Parents Can Do To Help

Most teens cite parental influence as the number one reason they don’t drink. So, be proactive and talk with your child before they start drinking or using drugs.

  • Have a conversation – Expressing your disapproval of underage drinking and substance use is the single most important thing you can do. You can also help them understand why it’s a bad idea, make sure they know that most teens DO NOT use alcohol or drugs, and give them tips for how to avoid it.
  • Have dinner together – Studies have shown that teens who eat dinner with their families five to seven times a week are 33 percent less likely to use alcohol.
  • Ask questions – Ask where your teens are going when they go out, and be sure that their social environments are alcohol- and drug-free. Give them an easy out: Let them know that if they find themselves in a situation where alcohol or drugs are present, they can call you and you’ll come pick them up.
  • Know who your children’s friends are – The single greatest risk for underage drinking is if your child’s peers drink.
  • Be verbally supportive with praise and compliments.
  • Give children tasks and responsibilities so they can develop their own skills.
  • Help your teens feel good about themselves and their abilities to become successful.
  • Keep prescription painkillers locked up and properly dispose of medications.
  • Create positive opportunities, including:
    • Responsibilities at home
    • Participation in activities, such as sports, music, theater, art, faith-based organizations
    • Reinforcement from influential adults
    • Healthy relationships with adults, including parents, caregivers, teachers, coaches, pastors and others
    • Healthy beliefs and clear standards for behavior (your child should understand rules about the use of alcohol and drugs in the home and know they will be enforced)

Toll-free youth crisis hotlines: If you or your child is having a mental health or substance abuse crisis, call Tennessee’s statewide toll-free crisis hotline anytime at 855-CRISIS-1 (855-274-7471). Your call is free and will be answered 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

For additional assistance or information, call the toll-free crisis telephone line in your area anytime—they are in operation 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

  • Youth Villages (North Middle) (866) 791-9221
  • Youth Villages (South Middle) (866) 791-9222
  • Mental Health Cooperative (Davidson Co.) (615) 726-0125
  • Youth Villages (Rural West) (866) 791-9227
  • Frontier Health (Upper East) (877) 928-9062
  • Youth Villages (Memphis Region) (866) 791-9226
  • Helen Ross McNabb (Knoxville) (865) 539-2409
  • Youth Villages (East Region) (866) 791-9224
  • Youth Villages (South East Region) (866) 791-9225

A behavioral health crisis is any mental health and/or substance use issue that you feel is a crisis. It can extend to include family members or others who are closely observing an individual.

Trained crisis specialists can help you. Whether you are concerned about feelings of sadness, anxiety, depression, powerlessness over the use of drugs or alcohol, suicidal thoughts, or mood swings, these specialists can help you get treatment services for yourself or a loved one.