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Treating Juvenile Substance Abuse: The Promise of Juvenile Drug Courts

NCJ Number
Juvenile Justice Volume: 5 Issue: 2 Dated: December 1998 Pages: 11-19
R J Kimbrough
Date Published
9 pages
This article describes the need for and the characteristics of the juvenile drug court and offers suggestions for juvenile drug treatment programs, along with a strategy for support after the completion of drug court requirements.
In a typical juvenile drug court, delinquents and, in some courts, status offenders who meet certain eligibility criteria are offered the option of participating in drug court in lieu of traditional case processing. To be eligible, the juvenile must have a substance abuse problem and cannot have committed a violent offense. The judge maintains close oversight of each juvenile through regular, often weekly, status hearings with the juvenile and his/her parents. The juvenile and usually parents are required to participate in an intensive treatment regimen. Sanctions, which may range from community service to short-term detention, and rewards are used to encourage compliance with the treatment regimen. The characteristics of adolescent substance abuse suggest several principles for structuring effective juvenile treatment programs; treatment programs must take comprehensiveness seriously; treatment services should be flexible and individualized; services should be coordinated and provide continuity; services should be intensive and concrete; and treatment services should work respectfully and collaboratively with families in identifying and responding to problems. Services should also address the multiple determinants of adolescent drug abuse. The provision of a network of support helps sustain long-term progress. 25 references