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Residential Substance Abuse Treatment for Juveniles

NCJ Number
Date Published
November 2020
51 pages

This manual guides the development of federally funded Residential Substance Abuse Treatment (RSAT) for juvenile justice-involved youth.


Guidelines for RSAT programs were developed based on evaluations of RSAT programs for adult offenders. Although there is substantial overlap between drug treatment for adult and juvenile justice-involved youth with substance-use disorders (SUDs), there are significant differences, which are addressed in this manual. One major section of the manual identifies issues that must be addressed in treating justice-involved juveniles with SUDs. These include trauma experienced in childhood; family-related trauma, notably involving parental substance abuse; gender-related trauma and coping mechanisms; culture related stresses and coping competence; and psychosocial maturity. Another major section of the manual addresses screening and assessment upon intake for justice processing. Fifteen factors are listed for screening and discussed for their relevance to SUD treatment. The manual’s third section focuses on RSAT program structure for juveniles, with attention to program length and phases, cultural responsiveness, daily programming, and prosocial behavior promotion. The manual’s fourth major section addresses treatment modalities and curriculum. Issues discussed are criminal thinking, trauma-informed and specific treatment, specific treatment modalities, cognitive behavioral intervention, therapeutic communities, motivational interviewing, medication-assisted treatment, peer support, and treating co-occurring SUDs and mental disorders. Other major sections of the manual provide guidance for staffing and training, drug-free environments, transition and aftercare planning, measuring results, and examples of RSAT programs for juveniles. Appended supplementary information and references  

Date Published: November 1, 2020