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Kate Mahoney on Substance Use, Violence in Teens, Young Adults

"Substance use and violence are undeniably linked, and untreated adolescent anger can have deadly consequences," says Kate Mahoney, who has served as Executive Director of Evanston- and Glenview-based PEER Services for more than 30 years. "Without proper tools to manage emotions, teens and young adults often seek alternative, harmful coping mechanisms like substance use, as well as violently lashing out as an outlet for their anger."

Mahoney is stepping down from her position later this month to become the Executive Director of the The Naomi Ruth Cohen Institute for Mental Health Education at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology.

Dear Evanston asked Mahoney about the connection between drug use and violence.

"While under the influence of alcohol and other drugs, young people are more likely to over-react to feelings of anger with acts of vandalism, violence against animals, and violence against others," she says. "PEER Services incorporates strengthening anger management skills into our treatment services because we know this will lead to decreased substance use, decreased youth violence, and increased safety in our community. Evidence strongly suggests that honing skills to process anger and other emotions decreases a young persons’ likelihood to abuse substances in the future and lead violent lives."


If you know a teen or young adult who needs help, call PEER Services at 847-492-1778. They're located at 906 Davis Street in Evanston.


PEER Services has been providing substance abuse prevention and services to individuals in Evanston and surrounding communities since 1975. Its goals in prevention, early intervention, and adolescent and young adult treatment programs include providing young people with the skills and support to live healthier lives free of substance use and violence.

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