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J Nerv Ment Dis. 1986 Nov;174(11):669-79.

Program characteristics for successful treatment of adolescent drug abuse.


The relationship to treatment outcome, as measured by reduction in drug use, of specific characteristics and elements of 30 drug-free outpatient programs for adolescents is reported. Admission and discharge data were obtained from National Institute on Drug Abuse-Client Oriented Data Acquisition Process on 5789 adolescents in the 30 programs. A partial cross-validation study was conducted by analyzing separately for two annual client subsamples. The program, not the individual clients, was the unit of analysis. While controlling for differences between programs on their client populations, multiple regression analysis indicated that the following characteristics of programs were found to predict the outcome criterion variable, to a statistically significant degree: treat a large number of adolescent clients; have a special school for school dropouts; have a relatively large budget; employ counselors or therapists who have at least 2 years' experience in working with adolescent drug abusers; provide special services such as vocational counseling, recreational services, and birth control services; use such therapy methods as crisis intervention, gestalt therapy, music/art therapy, and group confrontation; and be perceived by the clients as allowing and encouraging free expression and spontaneous action by clients. There was a high degree of replication of these findings across the two annual subsamples of clients; and the amount of variance in the treatment outcome criterion variable accounted for by the above-listed program characteristics was quite impressive.

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