What can I try?

Adult Interventions

Advice for parents, teachers, counselors, and other adults.

Find out if the youth is currently under the influence and to what degree. If you are concerned that their intoxication may be a medical emergency, call 9-1-1 or take them to the Emergency Room.


Try to find out what substances they are using and where they are getting them.


Make every effort to remove their access, or to monitor closely if it is a drug they are prescribed.


Ask about or try to find out what they are getting out of it and what need they are trying to fill. 


Talk with youth about the dangers of using drugs and alcohol.


Set clear limits with rules and consequences for what happens if they continue to use drugs or alcohol.


Let them know you are there for them and your priority is keeping them safe.

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Who can help?

Get counseling or mental health treatment

Treatment options specific to substance abuse include counseling with a licensed addiction counselor, assessment, individual, family and/or group counseling, education, and breath and urine analysis. These services are usually provided on a sliding fee scale. There is also a residential program for youth that need more intensive substance abuse treatment.

There are several different ways to seek counseling or treatment. This includes a private therapist, a school counselor, mental health center services, and/or substance abuse treatment.

Private therapists can be a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW), a licensed clinical professional counselor (LCPC), or a psychologist. This is usually covered by insurance and occurs weekly or every other week. Most therapists will individualize treatment and may offer more frequent sessions if needed. Youth may also receive counseling at school. This may be in the form of a school counselor who is accessible to all youth. Find out from the teacher who the school counselor is and how you and/or the youth can set up a time with them. The school counselor can give you more information about services available in the school.

Youth in crisis may need more intensive support than outpatient therapy or school counseling. Mental health centers offer a variety of services: case management, in-home services, and individual and family therapy. Some mental health centers also offer medication management. 

If this process is overwhelming, you need help finding the right fit, or you cannot wait for the first available appointment, contact the Youth Crisis Diversion Project. A Crisis Coordinator will meet with you within 24 business hours and guide you through the process of selecting the right service for your needs.

Tips for Selecting a Provider.

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Emergency Room

Take youth to the Emergency Room if they need medical assistance for their substance use.

Youth can be evaluated in the Emergency Room for mental health issues and possible placement in the hospital. They can arrive with parents, or with the support of law enforcement and/or other professionals. Youth must go through the process of medical screening, which can take several hours. The doctor then determines whether to call in the on-call mental health professional. This is most common when considering a placement in acute inpatient hospitalization. Law enforcement and other professionals are unlikely to stay through this process.

Parents and professionals can call the on-call mental health professional before going to the Emergency Room. The on-call mental health professional will ask for a description of what is occurring and what the concerns are. They may be able to suggest an alternative, or at the least have some information ahead of time.

If a youth needs a hospital placement or more intensive services, the Emergency Room staff explore options. Shodair Children's Hospital and Billings Clinic are two in-state options. If these facilities do not have available beds, there are out of state options. Parents should attempt to transport youth, but can access an ambulance under certain circumstances. Parents must be present through the intake/admission process.

If the youth does not need a hospital placement, Emergency Room staff will explore other options with the family. This may include shelter care, partial hospitalization, a safety plan, and information for follow up services. See Mental Health for more information.

Under some circumstances, parents may decide against the recommendation to hospitalize their child. This is a parent’s right, and other community based options are available. It is important to know that not following this recommendation may result in a report to Child and Family Services from the mental health or medical provider.


Contact Information

Mental Health 24 Hour Emergency Services: 1-800-266-7198
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Call 9-1-1

Call 9-1-1 if you are concerned about serious harm and need medical assistance or support from police in getting youth to Emergency Room. Also call 9-1-1 to have youth ticketed for underage use.

When calling 9-1-1, be ready to give the dispatcher the right information. This includes name: phone number, address, date of birth, people involved, a description of the situation, and what kind of help you need. It may be helpful to inform the dispatcher of the child’s mental health issues so that the responding officer is aware. Remember that 9-1-1 is an emergency response, and the goal of the responding officer will be to ensure safety and move on to the next call.

There are several possible responses by law enforcement. Law enforcement may provide support to stabilize, transport youth to the Emergency Room for evaluation, write a ticket, and/or place a youth in detention. Once law enforcement arrives, the outcome is up to their discretion. See Law Enforcement for more information.

Also visit Billings Fire DepartmentBillings Police Department and Yellowstone County Sheriff Department.

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Seek out substance abuse counseling or treatment

There are treatment options specific to substance abuse. This may include counseling with someone who is also a licensed addiction counselor, but may also include assessment, individual, family and/or group counseling, education, and possibly breath and urine analysis. Services in this field are broken down into several different levels outlined by the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM). Identifying the appropriate level of care is important to promote positive outcomes.  Substance use disorders can occur alone, or they can be present alongside other mental health and/or medical conditions. It is important to seek treatment and interventions that can address all of a youth’s problems to try to help them enter a long lasting recovery. Licensed Addiction Counselors (LACs) receive specific training and supervision in working with substance use disorders and are the professionals that typically provide counseling and evaluations in this area. 

Types of Services:

Chemical Dependency Evaluation- To help families identify what services will be most beneficial for youth, a chemical dependency evaluation is a good starting point. A licensed addiction counselor will gather information from the family and Youth and utilize ASAM criteria to develop recommendations to match the needs of the youth and their families to appropriate services.   There are multiple organizations providing these evaluations as well as many independent licensed addiction counselors.

Outpatient Services -These services may be delivered individually by a licensed addiction counselor, or in a group setting, with multiple youth. In outpatient services, youth receive anywhere between one and five hours of counseling per week. This level of services is available through local organizations and by private licensed addiction counselors in Yellowstone County.

Intensive Outpatient Services & partial Hospitalization Services-These more intensive outpatient programs are typically offered by organizations. In addition to counseling groups, these programs may also incorporate other educational and skills groups. Intensive Outpatient programs provide a minimum of six hours a week and partial hospitalization programs provide a minimum of 20 hours per week.

Residential services-Residential services are provided for those youth who are not able to successfully address their substance use disorders on an outpatient basis and may require the additional 24 hour structure and support to address their substance use and other mental health issues. 



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