Current Environment:

Effective, efficient care for teen substance use and addiction

Our nation faces epidemic levels of substance use disorders and overdose deaths, problems that often begin in childhood and adolescence. The Division of Addiction Medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital, the first addiction medicine center at a children’s hospital in the country, provides leadership in the prevention, evaluation, and treatment of early substance use and addiction.

As awareness of the dangers of substance use disorders grows, more families are actively seeking help. Boston Children’s Division of Addiction Medicine takes a broad-based approach to ensuring children and teens receive effective intervention and appropriate treatment. Our work includes:

  • providing direct patient care through the Adolescent Substance Use and Addiction Program (ASAP), which focuses on identifying, diagnosing, and treating substance use problems and disorders in children and adolescents
  • expanding the network of pediatric care providers trained in pediatric substance use disorders with physician-to-physician counseling through our Primary Care Plus (PC Plus) Program.
  • expanding the network of addiction medicine specialists through the Adolescent Substance Use & Addiction Fellowship at Harvard Medical School
  • developing innovative approaches to prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of childhood and adolescent substance use disorders through research

As part of our research efforts, we are collaborating with Boston Children’s Precision Vaccines Program on a project to develop an opioid vaccine to prevent fentanyl overdose deaths. We are also working with the Department of Anesthesiology, Critical Care, and Pain Medicine to understand pain and opioid use in adolescents who have undergone major surgery.

Vision and mission

Our vision is a healthy adolescent and young adulthood for all. Our mission is to profoundly improve health and well-being and support positive development by reducing and preventing substance use and related conditions.

Programs and services

Adolescent Substance Use & Addiction Program (ASAP)

Learn more about the Adolescent Substance Use & Addiction Program (ASAP).

Primary Care Plus (PC Plus)

Primary Care Plus (PC Plus) is a virtual care and consultation program for adolescent and young adult patients who use substances. The program supports primary care practices in delivering substance use care to these patients in their medical home.

Primary care providers can receive provider-to-provider consultation with our addiction medicine specialists or refer a patient who is using substances, even just once or twice, for virtual evaluation, education, or counseling.

PC Plus services

  • virtual evaluation and counseling to determine appropriate support for a patient, which may include one-time or ongoing appointments with a social worker to provide education, support, and counseling in addition to other recommendations
  • parent and caregiver guidance in developing appropriate and effective strategies for responding to adolescent and young adult substance use
  • referral and case coordination with other treatment providers if a patient needs additional supports or a higher level of care
  • consultation for PCPs with our addiction medicine specialty team to support the primary care team in providing substance use care for patients in the medical home. This may include medication consultation, clinical urine screening within primary care, and addressing patients and families’ concerns around substance use and referral to treatment, and related issues.

Referring a patient to PC Plus

Any patient who has reported substance use or screened positive for substance use in the last year is appropriate for referral, even if substance use is not the patient’s primary reason for seeking support. If they are struggling in other ways, such as with anxiety, depression, or school stress, a referral to PC Plus is appropriate. We will “meet them where they are” and focus on the needs they identify while integrating substance use education, prevention, and treatment where applicable.

Referrals for PC Plus must come from the patient’s pediatric primary care provider. To make a referral or seek more information, call 617-919-5259.

Teaching and training

The Pediatric Addiction Medicine Fellowship is an ACGME-accredited, one-year program that seeks to recruit motivated trainees who wish to advance their knowledge and clinical skills in the areas of prevention, identification, and treatment of substance use and substance use disorders among adolescents.

The fellowship program provides interdisciplinary training in a variety of settings, with a focus on developmental-behavioral pediatrics.

Learn about the fellowship.