Vulnerability and resilience are both key concepts that are highly relevant in the provision of youth alcohol and other drug (AOD) services.

Vulnerability corresponds with the differing potential of young people for either healthy development or adverse social, behavioural and health outcomes. Consistent with this notion, the Victorian Government has developed a Vulnerable Youth Framework (DHS, 2010) to guide policy development and service provision in the youth sector.

Resilience research has made a significant contribution to how young people experiencing vulnerability can be guided and supported to achieve better health and developmental outcomes. Further, the study of resilience has had a transformative effect on how issues that affect development (such as substance use problems) are understood and addressed.

This has involved  “…shifting goals, methods, and models away from deficit-oriented and medical disease models to approaches that focus on strengths, health, and well-being” (Masten & O’Dougherty Wright, 2009; p214-215). Further, it has been demonstrated that a young person’s capacity to be resilient in the face of adversity is determined not only by their own motivation and capabilities, but also by the capacity of their family, community and culture to provide crucial  resources and opportunities in meaningful ways (Ungar, 2006).

The following material on vulnerability and resilience underpins the framework for resilience-based intervention.