Short-Term Counseling Has Longer-Term Benefits for Teen Substance Abusers

Studying the effectiveness of a brief intervention for drug-abusing adolescents

From June 2001 through June 2004, researchers at the University of Minnesota Medical School developed and tested two brief interventions for mild-to-moderate substance abusing adolescents.

In both interventions, adolescents attended two group counseling sessions. In the second intervention, researchers added a parent-only group session, in which parents reviewed each child's substance abuse history, and set goals, with a focus on preventing relapse.

Key Findings:

  • At the six-month follow-up, adolescents in both treatment groups displayed significant improvements in all substance use outcome variables including:
    • Fewer number of recent drug use days
    • Fewer number of recent binge drinking days
    • Increased recognition that they had a problem
    • Increased use of treatment options