Navigating Teen Depression and Substance Use as a Family

Mexican mother and father sitting with their teenage children and listening to their daughter.

The relationship between depression and substance use is complicated, and even teenagers get caught in the tangle. Whether an adolescent turned to substances to self-medicate or use of substances led to developing symptoms of depression, we know that the combination increases the risk for both self-harm and suicide attempts. When a teen you love is dealing with both, what can you do?

This isn’t an isolated issue: approximately 30-45% of adolescents with mental health disorders have a co-occurring substance use disorder, and nearly two-thirds of adolescents with a substance use disorder have an underlying mental health condition. Fortunately, adults can implement preventive strategies and learn how to effectively recognize and treat depression and substance use to improve overall health.

In this webinar, presenters David Blair, LCSW, CACIII, AAMFT, and Jamie Blair Echevarria, LCSW, LMFT, CACIII, cover how caring adults can fully engage in the process of prevention and treatment for adolescent substance use and depression, identify when a teen requires professional intervention, and communicate effectively about substance use and misuse.


David Blair Headshot


Dave Blair, LCSW, CAC III, AAMFT Clinical Fellow and Approved Supervisor. Dave has been Co-Owner, Co-Director, and Family Therapist at the Denver Family Therapy Center since its inception in 1988. His career began in the child welfare field (1975-1984) as caseworker and eventually supervisor of Colorado’s first Intensive Family Therapy Team. In addition to his clinical work, Dave has taught and supervised Family Systems Therapy, teaching Family Systems Therapy and Substance Use Courses at University of Denver Graduate School of Social Work since 1985. He, together with a number of like-minded colleagues, is currently developing the Colorado Center for Applied Systemic Thinking (COCAST) and co-authored Youth and Their Families: A Guide to Treating Adolescent Substance Use Through Family Systems Therapy (Oxford University Press 2019).

Jamie Blair Headshot

Jamie Blair Echevarria, LCSW, LMFT, CACIII,

Jamie Blair Echevarria, LCSW, LMFT, CACIII, is a Co-Owner at Denver Family Therapy Center and the Clinical Director for the Adolescent Substance Abuse Program and the Youth Drug Alcohol Prevention Program at Denver Family Therapy Center. As a clinician, she specializes in working with families of high-risk adolescents and substance abuse. She is an adjunct professor at the University of Denver in the Graduate School of Social Work and teaches classes on Family Therapy theory and Strategies and Techniques of Family Therapy. She is an Affiliate Faculty at Metropolitan State University in the Department of Social Work. Ms. Echevarria has 18 years of experience working with adolescents and their families.


Valerie Cordero, PhD

Valerie Cordero is Co-Executive Director of Families for Depression Awareness. Valerie joined the FFDA staff in 2010 and has held positions in administration, programs, and development. She received her BA from Spelman College and earned her Masters and PhD in Ethnomusicology from the University of California at Los Angeles. Valerie is based in FFDA’s Nashville office.