Navigating Adolescents and Substance Use

Boredom, curiosity, coping with strong emotions, fitting in…. These are a few of the reasons why some adolescents use substances such as alcohol, marijuana, nicotine, prescription pills and harder drugs.

What begins as experimenting and using substances for fun can quickly turn into habitual use. With habitual use, there is danger in entering the addiction cycle. In this cycle a person slowly increases the amount used as their body develops more tolerance. As tolerance increases, a person may begin to use the substance as a way to feel “normal” instead of simply using substances for fun. If this continues, more of the person’s focus becomes about the substance and less about daily life. In this phase, a person is concerned about when and where they will attain the substance while they let other areas of their life go. This is difficult for the adolescent, who may feel out of control, confused and frustrated. It’s also difficult for people in the adolescent’s life, who may feel disrespected, unvalued and unable to help the adolescent.

Addiction cycle:

Person shares a joint with 2 people and feels high.

Person needs to have their own joint to feel high.

Person uses a joint to manage emotions or activities in their day.

Person is concerned about when, where and how to get the substance.

Person stops caring for their daily activities or for themselves.

The good news is that treatment is possible at any stage of this cycle. There is always hope and the ability to return to a rewarding life.

Thriveworks knows there is a lot of hope! Many people have come to us and left with renewed control over their lives. We understand the complexity of an adolescent engaging in substance use. There are many factors in play that our counselors are equipped to support and treat.

We have had a partnership with Colorado School District 11 since 2018. Through this partnership, we join them with supporting student mental health and substance abuse needs. We are able to join with other school districts, individual schools or families in this same way.

Read below for a detailed description of the Thriveworks Substance Abuse Program. If you are interested in learning more, please contact us:



How to Maximize the School’s Influence in Substance Use by Students:

Substance use and abuse by students in Middle and High school is on the rise. Many schools are prepared for this due to their diligence in creating and implementing policies involving:

1. Prohibition rules
2. Enforcement systems
3. Consequences which are individualized and evidence based.

Even with these policies in place, the substance use numbers continue to climb.  We found that many schools are missing the 4th important step, which has been shown to decrease the number of substance abuse incidents in school:

4. Intervention and Treatment.

Goal of Intervention and treatment:

To provide students who are struggling with substance with the help they need.

Many individuals who misuse substances as adolescents, develop unhealthy patterns. Through early intervention, education, treatment and support, this can be prevented.  It is recommended that intervention and treatment are encouraged or mandated through the enforcement and consequence systems.

Comprehensive and evidence based substance abuse intervention includes:

  • Assessment and screening of substance use treatment needs
  • A system to connect students and families to the necessary services
  • Preventative interventions for students who don’t need treatment
  • Counseling for students who need treatment.

Thriveworks offers:

  • Highly Qualified Counselors:
    • Are licensed by DORA
    • Are supervised by an LAC (Licenced Addiction Counselor)
    • Participate in consultation with an LAC
    • Are experienced and trained in working with adolescents
  • An evidence based treatment program, SBIRT. This treatment program includes individualized goals and objectives.
  • Use of a validated assessment tool, CRAFFT.
  • Collaboration with the school and families regarding student progress

Thriveworks Substance Abuse Intervention Program Details:

  1. The school will refer students to the Thriveworks Substance Abuse Intervention Program.
  2. Thriveworks will attain the consent to treat, release of information, insurance details, and payment type from the family.
  3. The school and Thriveworks Counselor will schedule a meeting for the student to meet the counselor at school, during the school day or in the Thriveworks Offices after school.
  4. A Thriveworks Counselor administers the CRAFFT screening tool.
  5. A Thriveworks Counselor provides brief therapy, according to the SBIRT program (Screening, Brief Intervention, Referral to Treatment). Brief therapy includes incorporating the stages of change model, cognitive behavioral therapy and motivational interviewing.  Brief therapy will consist of 3 -6 sessions. Referral for treatment will be determined after this is completed.
  6. Thriveworks will bill the student’s family’s insurance. The family will be responsible for the copay or deductible.
  7. The Thriveworks counselor will invite family members into the session as needed.
  8. The student and family will be asked to sign a release of information form so the counselor can communicate with the school counselor regarding treatment progress.

If you would like to discuss details, don’t hesitate to reach out. We can talk via phone or set a meeting.


Thriveworks Counseling

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Jerry was amazing! Jerry uses choice theory in order to help his patients grow and work through their problems...Read more

. Choice theory was helpful through my relationship counseling but also could be used individually to helps each person grow themselves. Jerry used real scenarios in order to water down the theory, making it less scientific and more geared toward individual use. Jerry was patient, helpful, and very understanding.

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could never ask for a better therapist thank you Rachel for changing my life and making a difference in my life and protecting me as well as helping and encouraging me even when I didn't wanna do your challenges cuz I didn't think I could do it and thanks for not letting me do whatever I want and helping me be a better person and thanks for your funny spider stories that cheer me up and when you were Sarcastic sometimes I love everything about you and thanks for being an Angel and for your kindness and Compassion I too have your back and care about you!

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Cassie has done wonders for my daughter. She has come so far in this past year. I am so thankful for the relat...Read more

ionship my daughter and I have now. Before Cassie we were a wreck. We love so Cassie so much. I couldn't ask for a better councilor/ therapist/ mentor.

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Thriveworks Counseling

  • 5410 Powers Center Point Suite #210
    Colorado Springs, CO 80920

  • Mon-Fri:8AM-8PM
    Sat-Sun:8AM-4PM - Closed Sunday

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