California’s Public Substance Use Disorder Treatment System for Youth: An Overview

Prepared for the California Health Care Foundation

September 2017 – Substance use disorders have a significant impact on individual health and social outcomes. Youth with substance use disorders are particularly vulnerable, as early drug use increases a person’s chance of developing addiction and can impact brain functions such as memory, motivation, and behavior control. In California, youth who seek treatment must navigate a complicated public health care system where physical health, mental health, and substance use disorder services are administered by different entities and often in an uncoordinated fashion. This report focuses on substance use disorders among youth in California, including a comprehensive look at public programs and funding streams, the prevalence and impact, and practice opportunities for improving care.