SAMHSA: Juvenile Drug Treatment Courts Break Cycle of Drugs, Alcohol and Crime

by Liz Wu

Across the country, juvenile treatment drug courts (JTDC) are helping teens achieve better outcomes by focusing on treatment and family engagement. JTDCs treat teens for both substance abuse problems and mental health issues, as needed. As David Morrissette, senior program manager at SAMHSA, explained to SAMHSA News, "up to 70 percent of youth in the juvenile justice system have mental health disorders and more than 60 percent of those also have a substance use disorder."

The latest issue of SAMHSA News highlights a number of successful drug court programs, including Reclaiming Futures. From the article [emphasis mine]:

In a 2012 evaluation [ppt] examining data from 1,934 young people participating in drug courts at 17 CSAT grantee sites, evaluators found that participants saw a 26 percent increase in the number of days they abstained from alcohol and other drugs between intake and a 1-year follow-up. Participants’ scores on a scale measuring emotional problems and difficulties with self-control declined by 16 percent. The average number of crimes reported dropped by half.

According to the evaluation, a more intensive approach to juvenile treatment drug courts called Reclaiming Futures reached youth with more severe problems, provided more services, and did an even better job of increasing abstinence, reducing emotional problems, and reducing criminal behavior.

"There are six stages in the [Reclaiming Futures] model," said SAMHSA Project Officer Holly Rogers, M.A. "These include screening and assessing young people to identify alcohol or substance use problems, coordinating services across agencies, helping kids and families make an initial contact with services, getting them actively engaged in services, and transitioning them out of services and into long-term supports, such as helping relationships and community resources."

Learn more about the Reclaiming Futures model and how to bring it to your community.

Read the full article here.


This excerpt appears courtesy of SAMHSA News, Volume 21, Number 1, Winter 2013. SAMHSA News is the national newsletter of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. SAMHSA News may be accessed at http://www.samhsa.gov/samhsaNewsletter.


Liz Wu is a Digital Accounts Manager at Prichard Communications, where she oversees digital outreach for Reclaiming Futures and edits Reclaiming Futures Every Day. Before joining the Prichard team, Liz established the West Coast communications presence for the New America Foundation, where she managed all media relations, event planning and social media outreach for their 6 domestic policy programs. Liz received a B.A. in both Peace and Conflict Studies and German from the University of California at Berkeley. She tweets from @LizSF.