Using Screening and Brief Intervention to Prevent Underage Marijuana Use:  Findings from a Pilot Program in Colorado Measuring Adolescent Marijuana Use with the CRAFFT Screening Tool

Holen Hirsh, PhD & Emily Love, PhD; OMNI Institute

Adolescent marijuana use is a pressing concern in the state of Colorado, particularly in light of recent legislation legalizing the sale and use of recreational marijuana. Given the high prevalence of marijuana use among Colorado youth, 22% report using marijuana in the past 30 days (Healthy Kids Colorado Survey, 2011), the Colorado Prevention Partnership for Success initiative (funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, administered by the Colorado Office of Behavioral Health), in partnership with OMNI Institute and Peer Assistance Services, is working with schools and community organizations in four counties (Adams, Denver, Pueblo, and Weld) to implement and evaluate a targeted prevention and intervention effort that utilizes evidence-based screening and brief intervention.  Staff are trained in screening and brief intervention using the CRAFFT screening tool, validated for substance use screening with adolescents. Trained staff then screen adolescents for substance use during clinical encounters and collect data around how they screened on the CRAFFT using an online database. In addition, the evaluation team has administered a survey to collect baseline data from individuals participating in screening and brief intervention training. A follow-up survey will be administered in the fall of 2014 to assess how implementation worked and what lessons were learned.

Preliminary CRAFFT data collected from nearly 200 youth suggests that more than 1/3 of youth screened have used alcohol, marijuana or hashish, or something else to get high in the past 12 months. It is important to note that among youth who indicate that they have used substances in the past 12 months, 92% report that they used marijuana.

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Data collected from 176 health care providers and school staff at trainings suggest that 2/3 of providers feel they do not have the tools they need to screen for marijuana use with adolescents.

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While the data are not collected from a representative sample of Colorado youth and professionals, these preliminary findings provide evidence in support of the need for further adolescent marijuana use prevention efforts in the state of Colorado. The Office of Behavioral Health, OMNI Institute, and Peer Assistance Services continue to collaborate to support prevention initiatives focusing on youth and marijuana use.

For questions, please contact Holen Hirsh (hhirsh@omni.org) or Emily Love (elove@omni.org). We look forward to hearing from you!