SMART Policy Briefs

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 10-19-2021


This brief will highlight the nature of the youth substance misuse problem in Tennessee. It will also outline recommendations on how the state can move forward with further investments to help address youth substance use prevention.

Key Points

  • Adolescent substance misuse is widespread and costly.
  • Substance misuse prevention works and is cost-effective.
  • Prevention represents a long-term investment rather than an ongoing expenditure.
  • Tennessee needs to scale up and sustain evidence-based prevention interventions.

Adolescent substance misuse and its consequences continue to be a challenge in Tennessee communities. To address the problem of substance misuse in Tennessee’s youth and young adults, it is helpful to look at how widespread the issue is; what factors contribute to use; and how it affects communities, families, and individuals. When reviewing these factors, it is important to remember that brain development continues until approximately 25 years of age, so prevention of misuse prior to adulthood is essential to preventing more severe consequences later. Importantly, additional evidence-based substance misuse preventive interventions are needed in Tennessee to prevent young people from becoming part of the substance misuse cycle.

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