Exploring the Implementation of Justice-Based Alcohol and Drug Intervention Strategies with Juvenile Offenders

This paper addresses three practice approaches to substance abuse interventions for youth that are being combined to maximize the potential of each—juvenile drug courts, Reclaiming Futures and adolescent treatment enhancement. All three share a common goal: reduce destructive use of illegal substances and related illegal behaviors, and promote a healthy transition to adulthood.

Juvenile drug courts— funded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention— take a problem-solving approach to address substance abuse treatment, criminogenic risk factors, education needs and complex family structures.

Reclaiming Futures—funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation—comprises 29 sites in public/private partnerships that integrate juvenile justice reforms, innovations in adolescent substance abuse treatment and positive youth development.

Adolescent treatment enhancement—funded by the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment—includes the evolution of services to address distinct needs of adolescents, including evidence-based assessment and treatment tools, and treatment protocols.

Preliminary data from the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment indicates that “youth being served in this collaboration are making significantly better improvements in their substance abuse outcomes at six months post-intake.”

Other research questions will explore the long-term success of youth who received coordinated care from juvenile justice.

This article is part of a special issue of Children and Youth Services Review on the RWJF-funded Reclaiming Futures program.