Student assistance professionals have long been on the front lines of responding to
alcohol and other drug (AOD) problems among young people but have lacked service
models derived specifically from studies of the long-term solutions to these problems. As
a country, we have a commanding knowledge of the pharmacology of psychoactive
drugs, adolescent drug use trends, and the factors that contribute to youthful drug
experimentation. We know a great deal about the etiology, patterns, course, and
consequences of adolescent substance use disorders, and we are beginning to build an
impressive body of knowledge from studies evaluating prevention, early intervention, and
treatment programs. Studies of AOD problems and interventions to resolve them have
advanced our responses to these problems, but there are growing calls for extending the
existing research agenda to embrace a resilience and recovery paradigm (White, 2005).
The resilience and recovery paradigm posits that solutions to AOD problems
already exist in the lives of individuals, families, neighborhoods, and communities and
that our focus of study should be extended to learn from these successes. The assumption
is that studying “at-risk” individuals who have resisted development of AOD problems or
who have experienced but then resolved these problems will reveal principles and
practices that can lead to more effective prevention and treatment strategies. This article
hopes to spark interest in this emerging paradigm by posing questions about the
resolution of severe AOD problems among adolescents that have received limited
scientific inquiry. These missing links stand as potential catalysts for system
transformation in the prevention and treatment arenas.


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