Adolescent-Only Substance Abuse Treatment

The likelihood that adolescents will receive treatment for substance abuse at a given facility is related to specific organizational characteristics. Publicly funded programs are more likely to exclude adolescents from treatment than privately funded centers.

Programs that treat adolescents for substance abuse face a complex network of risks, needs and life issues. Adolescent enrollment in substance abuse programs spiked during the late 1990s. In response, researchers began testing the waters in an effort to understand the treatment environment. Initial studies looked for correlations between the presence of adolescents in treatment facilities and the availability of various components of treatment. These investigations, however, lacked measures of overall quality.

This study extends the analysis of a 2004 evaluation that, focusing on adolescent-only care, began building an aggregate model to measure treatment quality. Analyses summed a large number of indicators into separate domains. Relative risk ratios (RRRs) expressed the effect of independent variables on the odds that a program was placed in a particular treatment category.

Key Findings:

  • Privately funded programs were more likely to offer inpatient treatment and partial hospitalization.
  • More intensive levels of treatment relied more heavily on group therapy sessions and educational sessions, forgoing family and individual sessions.