A Drug Treatment Program Can Help Teens

A Community-based drug treatment program can help troubled teens reduce substance abuse and improve their psychological health, according a RAND Corporation study issued today that is one of the most thorough examinations ever of the effectiveness of a commonly available treatment approach. If you know a young person who is dealing with the vicissitudes of early-onset drug and alcohol addiction combined with co-occurring mental health issues, this is information that should give you hope for the possibility of change in the future.

Addiction Treatment Can Make A Difference

Researchers found that teen probationers enrolled in a drug treatment program that follows a widely used care model were more likely to curb their drug use and have better psychological health such as fewer symptoms of depression than their peers who received other probation services such as camps, detention or long-term placements that were not focused on addiction treatment. “This is the first clear evidence that the kinds of substance abuse treatments commonly available to teens can be effective,” said Andrew Morral, a RAND researcher and lead author of the study. “In the program we studied, improvement began immediately and continued for at least 12 months.”

Holistic Drug Rehab For At-Risk Youth

Researchers from RAND’s Drug Policy Research Center say the findings raise important questions about calls for holistic drug rehab programs to adopt new substance abuse treatment methods developed in academic researcher centers. “Everyone wants the treatments provided to teens to be effective, so there is a lot of interest in encouraging holistic drug rehab providers to adopt one of a handful of approaches that have been rigorously evaluated,” Morral said. “Our finding that a widely available holistic drug rehab approach can be effective suggests that before we replace the current treatment system with the few experimentally validated  treatment approaches, we should first make sure that they are, in fact, more effective than what’s already out there.”