Researchers Find Substance-Abusing Youth in HMO Also Have Mental Health Problems

Follow-up study of adolescent substance abuse treatment in managed care

Between 1999 and 2003, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, and at the Kaiser Foundation Research Institute (Oakland, Calif.) examined access to and utilization of substance abuse services by adolescents in a large, nonprofit health maintenance organization.

Key Findings

  • Higher levels of family conflict and lower levels of parental limit setting were associated with increased alcohol and substance abuse, while a more positive family experience was associated with decreased dependence.

  • Adolescents seeking treatment for substance abuse exhibited higher rates of many psychiatric disorders, compared with those in a control group of teens not in treatment.

  • Adolescents were most likely to have been referred to treatment by parents, often in combination with mental health providers or the legal system.