The characteristics of effective youth AOD services and programs define the practice of youth AOD services. They demonstrate how the values and commitments of youth AOD services are expressed in practice but do not fully represent the content and techniques of clinical treatments or interventions that are delivered.  The literature on evidence-based practice has recently begun to expand to consider characteristics of practice, programs and services This trend is consistent with the Institute of Medicine’s definition of ‘evidence-based practice’ which centres on the integration of best research evidence with practitioner expertise and client values (Aarons & Palinkas, 2007; Henderson, Taxman, & Young, 2008)

Being clear about the way youth AOD services are delivered can greatly facilitate communication about the different roles that we might adopt in providing a comprehensive and integrated range of services for young people.

The list of practice orientations described below begins with the constructs identified and described in the local research, and elaborates these descriptions with information about identical or equivalent constructs from the literature.

No characteristic is necessarily relevant for every service or program and each can be expressed differently according to local need and organisational context. Some characteristics will apply best at the level of service systems or networks of coordinated programs.