The Roles of Culture, the Justice System and Support Groups in Adolescent Drug Treatment, Part 8Reprinted from the National Institute of Drug Abuse by Tom Wilson Counseling Center offering online substance abuse education for adults and adolescents.
15. What are the unique treatment needs of adolescents from different racial/ethnic backgrounds?
Treatment providers are urged to consider the unique social and environmental characteristics that may influence drug abuse and treatment for racial/ethnic minority adolescents, such as stigma, discrimination, and sparse community resources.
With the growing number of immigrant children living in the United States, issues of culture of origin, language, and acculturation are important considerations for treatment. The demand for bilingual treatment providers to work with adolescents and their families will also be increasing as the diversity of the U.S. population increases.
16. What role can the juvenile justice system play in addressing adolescent drug abuse?
Involvement in the juvenile justice system is unfortunately a reality for many substance-abusing adolescents, but it presents a valuable opportunity for intervention. Substance use treatment can be incorporated into the juvenile justice system in several ways.
• screening and assessment for drug abuse upon arrest
• initiation of treatment while awaiting trial
• access to treatment programs in the community in lieu of incarceration (e.g., juvenile treatment drug courts)
• treatment during incarceration followed by community-based treatment after release
17. What role do 12-step groups or other recovery support services play in addiction treatment for adolescents?
Adolescents may benefit from participation in self- or mutual-help groups like 12-step programs or other recovery support services, which can reinforce abstinence from drug use and other changes made during treatment, as well as support progress made toward important goals like succeeding in school and reuniting with family. Peer recovery support services and recovery high schools provide a community setting where fellow recovering adolescents can share their experiences and support each other in living a drug-free life.
It is important to note that recovery support services are not a substitute for drug abuse treatment. Also, there is sometimes a risk in support-group settings that conversation among adolescents can turn to talk extolling drug use; group leaders need to be aware of such a possibility and be ready to direct the discussion in more positive directions if necessary.