Mixed use among youth and young people

Summary The project addresses the issue of mixed use (e.g., alcohol and benzodiazepines) by adolescents and young adults.
Lead

Corina Salis Gross (Steering)

Michelle Dey (Operative lead)

Stephan Koller (Triage of adolescent / youth)

Duration January 2021 - March 2023
Funding Alcohol prevention fonds
Cooperation ZFPS (Domenic Schnoz)
Partner infodrog (Alwin Bachmann)

Background

Media reports are sounding the alarm, pointing to increased visible cases of highly problematic mixed use of harder drugs, medications (especially benzodiazepines) and alcohol among adolescents and young adults, as well as corresponding drug dealing involving teenagers. This is particularly risky due to unpredictable interactions and, depending on the substances taken, can be acutely life-threatening. This has already led to dangerous and sometimes even fatal overdoses. Affected municipalities and cantons have been prompted to initiate measures to deal with the problem. Political initiatives on the subject have also been taken.

However, the data situation on mixed use in Switzerland is currently still very patchy. Among other things, there is currently a lack of reliable data on the potentially new and particularly dangerous mixed consumption of alcohol with psychoactive drugs. Nevertheless, addiction centers and experts fear an increase in such dangerous consumption patterns. Similarly, no concepts and systematic approaches for effective prevention or intervention are available yet. Too little is known about the motives for consumption, types of consumption, possible risk awareness and risk reduction strategies of the adolescents concerned themselves and about effective prevention approaches.

Objectives and methods

The following project elements are planned:

  • Online survey of adolescents and young adults on mixed use.
    14-20 year-olds will be asked in an online survey about the topic of mixed use (e.g., about the substances that are taken at the same time; about consumption settings; about any risk reduction strategies used). Among other things, this survey should help to close existing knowledge gaps on the topic of mixed use. In addition, the results will also be used for the development of a brief intervention (see below).
  • Initial contact and relationship-based triaging of those affected to suitable counseling services
    Adolescents and young adults who express a need for counseling regarding their (mixed) use during the survey are contacted by specialists from the project team and - depending on their needs - triaged to appropriate services.
  • Development of an intervention concept for risk reduction
    Based on the survey results and in cooperation with specialized institutions and teenagers affected by peer networks, the intervention concept is developed iteratively. The intervention will target both the individuals and the group. In the peer networks, among other things, ways to reduce the risk of mixed use will be developed.
  • Dissemination of the results
    The generated findings and recommendations will be brought to a professional event. In addition, bases for the practice, the municipalities/cantons and for politics are available in order to preventively counteract a spread of highly problematic consumption cases.

 

Relevance

The project will not only provide new scientific insights into mixed use among adolescents and young adults in Switzerland. Rather, the project also has a high social relevance, as an intervention for adolescents and young adults with mixed consumption, which can be very dangerous, will be developed. The participatory involvement of adolescents and young adults as well as specialized institutions, municipalities and cantons should contribute to the acceptance and effectiveness of the intervention.

Publications in journals and media (german only)