Background: Youth with Substance Use Disorders (SUDs) referred to treatment
from the Juvenile Justice System (JJS) account for approximately half of the treatment
admissions nationwide. The objective of this paper is to report a comparison of retention and
outcomes for JJS referrals to those from the general community.
Methods: A total of 172 adolescents, 13-18 years of age, 83% males, 70% JJS referrals,
diagnosed with DSM-IV Cannabis Use Disorder (CUD), enrolled in this outpatient,
randomized, continued care study. Following a 7-session weekly motivational enhancement
and cognitive behavioral therapy intervention (MET/CBT-7), only poor responders were
randomized into a 10-week second phase of either an individualized enhanced CBT or an
Adolescent Community Reinforcement Approach (ACRA) intervention.
Results: JJS referrals’ retention rates were significantly higher than those of non-JJS
referrals (X2(1) = 11.21, p < .01) at the end of Phase I (i.e. week 7). However, there was no
difference in abstinence rates between the groups at the end of phase I or II and any of the
quarterly additional follow-up assessments up to one year from treatment onset.
Conclusions: Additional research examining how to capitalize on improved retention rates
among youth JJS referrals is necessary in order to advance abstinence.