Topic: Substance Abuse Treatment (Adolescent)

Scientific Ratings in this topic:

1 - Well-Supported by Research Evidence

2 - Supported by Research Evidence

3 - Promising Research Evidence

4 - Evidence Fails to Demonstrate Effect

5 - Concerning Practice

NR - Not able to be Rated

Learn more about the scale

Definition for Substance Abuse Treatment (Adolescent):

Substance Abuse Treatment (Adolescent) is defined by the CEBC as the treatment of adolescents (ages 12-17) with active substance use issues, including alcohol, marijuana, and/or other drugs. The CEBC has evaluated only replicable programs that do not use medication as a component of treatment and focuses on treatment programs, as opposed to programs designed to prevent the onset of substance use. Treatment can occur in a variety of settings, including outpatient, day treatment, residential, or inpatient, and may involve detoxification, counseling, education, relapse prevention training, life skills training, and self-help groups. Although many of these treatment programs may also be used in adults, the CEBC review and rating examines the research base for these treatments in adolescents only. Substance Abuse Treatment (Adult) is a separate topic area on the CEBC.

  • Target population: Adolescents with active substance use issues
  • Services/types that fit: Outpatient, day treatment, and residential services in individual or group formats
  • Delivered by: Mental health professionals or trained paraprofessionals
  • In order to be included: Program must specifically target adolescent substance use as a goal
  • In order to be rated: There must be research evidence (as specified by the Scientific Rating Scale) that examines outcomes related to substance abuse, such changes in symptom levels, behaviors, and/or functioning
Downloadable Topic Area Summary

Programs in this Topic Area

The programs listed below have been reviewed by the CEBC and, if appropriate, been rated using the Scientific Rating Scale.

Two Programs with a Scientific Rating of 1 - Well-Supported by Research Evidence:

  • Multidimensional Family Therapy (MDFT)
    Adolescents 11 to 18 with the following symptoms or problems: substance use or at risk, delinquent/conduct disorder, school and other behavioral ...
  • Multisystemic Therapy (MST)
    Youth, 12 to 17 years old, with possible substance abuse issues who are at risk of out-of-home placement due to antisocial or ...

Five Programs with a Scientific Rating of 2 - Supported by Research Evidence:

Five Programs with a Scientific Rating of 3 - Promising Research Evidence:

Three Programs with a Scientific Rating of NR - Not able to be Rated:

Why was this topic chosen by the Advisory Committee?

The Substance Abuse Treatment (Adolescent) topic area is relevant to child welfare because substance abuse may be a result of an adolescent experiencing child abuse/neglect, parental substance abuse and not having the necessary coping skills to address these traumatic experiences. Providing information about substance abuse treatment programs for adolescents on the CEBC gives child welfare departments additional resources for intervening with adolescents in an effort to help them with substance abuse recovery and develop healthier life skills. Without effective treatment, these adolescents are at higher risk for AWOLs, multiple placements, poor academic performance, and delinquency and they have a poor chance at the successful and safe future that they deserve.

Renee Smylie, MSW
Former CEBC Advisory Committee member

Topic Expert

The Substance Abuse Treatment (Adolescent) topic area was added in 2010. John D. Clapp, PhD was the topic expert and was involved in identifying and rating any of the programs with an original load date in 2010 (as found on the bottom of the program's page on the CEBC) or others loaded earlier and added to this topic area when it launched. The topic area has grown over the years and any programs added since 2010 were identified by CEBC staff, the Scientific Panel, and/or the Advisory Committee. For these programs, Dr. Clapp was not involved in identifying or rating them.