Young Adults in the Workplace: A Multisite Initiative of Substance Use Prevention Programs Edited by Jeremy W. Bray, Deborah M. Galvin, and Laurie A. Cluff RTI Press March 2011
Although higher rates of substance use among young adults aged 16 to 24 are well-established (OAS, 2010), existing workplace substance use prevention and early intervention programs primarily target older workers. These data suggest that workplaces need substance abuse prevention and early intervention programs that are proven to be efficacious with young working adults. Research has also shown that young adults are at high risk for other potentially unhealthy behaviors that frequently co-occur with substance abuse and that these behaviors can be addressed by workplace prevention and early intervention programs (Corrado et al., 2003; Ludwig et al., 1999; McFarlane et al., 2002).
To address this critical need in American workplaces, in 2004 the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) announced its Young Adults in the Workplace initiative (originally entitled Youth in the Workplace [YIW]) (SAMHSA, 2004). The YIW initiative was designed as a two-phase collaborative effort among SAMHSA investigators, multiple grantees, and a coordinating center. It was conceived as a mechanism to test the efficacy of workplace substance use prevention or early intervention programs for young working adults aged 16 to 24.
This book briefly describes the background and rationale for the YIW initiative (this chapter), presents the interventions implemented by the six YIW grantees (Chapters 2 through 7), and provides an overview of the methods and design of the cross-site evaluation (Chapter 8). The remainder of this introductory chapter provides an overview of some important issues that must be addressed in developing interventions to prevent or reduce substance use among young adults and in testing those interventions in workplace settings. First, we provide a justification for YIW’s focus on young adults aged 16 to 24. Next, we discuss substance use patterns and related issues among this population. Finally, we discuss issues relevant to the evaluation of workplace interventions.