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Transitional-aged youth perceptions of influential factors for substance-use change and treatment seeking

Authors Bowers A, Cleverley K, Di Clemente C, Henderson J

Received 7 July 2017

Accepted for publication 14 September 2017

Published 23 November 2017 Volume 2017:11 Pages 1939—1948


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Johnny Chen

Anna Bowers,1,2 Kristin Cleverley,1,2 Claudia Di Clemente,1 Joanna Henderson1

1Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, 2University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada

Abstract: There is an evident disparity between the number of youth who report experiencing problematic substance use and the number who seek treatment. To address this disparity, it is important to understand the reasons youth do and do not seek substance use treatment. Using qualitative data obtained from semistructured interviews with 31 youth aged 17–25 years presenting for treatment at a mental health hospital, the current study identifies themes in the factors that youth identify as having influenced them to seek or delay treatment. In alignment with self-determination theory, youth identified internal factors, such as wanting to better their academic, social, or financial situation, and external factors, such as familial pressure, as motivating them to seek treatment. Factors beyond those encompassed by self-determination theory were also revealed as having influenced youth decisions to seek treatment for substance abuse. These predominantly included structural factors, including satisfaction with previous treatment, accessibility of services, and availability of clinicians. These findings provide important insight for first-contact professionals and service providers looking to enhance youth motivation to seek and engage in treatment. Limitations and opportunities for future research are discussed.

Keywords: substance use, mental health, youth, treatment seeking, motivation

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