Adolescence and early adulthood are critical developmental periods within which a number of key tasks must be accomplished in order for 'normal' development to occur. Early initiation of substance use and subsequent problematic use may impede this development. Understandably, the recent global rise of psychostimulant use, particularly methamphetamine use among young people, has caused concern. As such, it is pertinent to focus on psychostimulant use as it specifically relates to young people.

The term 'young people' is used within the United Nations (UN) system to identify those aged 10 to 24 years. More specifically, the period of 'adolescence' comprises the ages of 10 to 19 years, while 'youth' describes those between the ages of 15 and 29. The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines adolescence as the second decade of life and stresses that it is a phase rather than a fixed period of time in a person's life.

During this phase enormous physical and psychological changes occur, as do changes in social perceptions, experiences and expectations (World Health Organisation, 2002). This transitional phase is characterised by a time of curiosity, discovery and exploration, during which there are a number of tasks that need to be accomplished.

Some of the tasks of adolescence include developing a stable sense of identity and moving from a stage of dependence to independence (Papalia, 1989). In early adulthood there is an emphasis on the wider community, in which the family, social relationships and 'vocation' become the key focal points. Being 'stuck' within a culture of problematic substance use can impede these vital development stages.