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Youth Substance Use Service Provider Study

PI and project team: Farihah Ali, PhD; Cayley Russell, MA; Tara Elton-Marshall, PhD; Sameer Imtiaz, PhD; Jurgen Rehm, PhD

Youth-oriented substance use service providers in Ontario have front-line experience working directly with youth and have a better understanding of what the population needs, the gaps in treatment and provision of care, and the challenges that surround treatment support. Since substance use patterns and challenges among youth are constantly changing, it is fundamental that programs and policy development is reflective of these changes and is up-to-date with the service gaps and challenges providers face. In 2019, OCRINT undertook a mixed-methods study to help understand what government-funded youth-oriented substance use service providers in Ontario need in terms of improving service access, and where research should be invested to help support the reduction of youth substance use issues in the future. This project involved a province-wide survey of service providers from youth-oriented addiction and/or problematic substance use treatment organizations in Ontario. Service providers were asked to complete a confidential online survey containing questions regarding their perspectives on key challenges and gaps in substance use services among youth, how these issues might be addressed, as well as what they believe substance use research should prioritize in Ontario. Key-informant interviews were conducted with a small sub-sample of service providers in order to provide a forum to discuss these issues in greater depth and richness. The overarching goal of this study was to better understand the youth substance use service landscape in Ontario, including prevailing gaps and challenges in service access. This study shed light on how the existing substance use and addiction care system in Ontario could be improved for youth who experience substance-related problems, and will help to inform future research projects. The results of this study are being analyzed and will be drafted into an academic research publication.