Blog: Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment

Understanding How Adverse Childhood Experiences Affect Teens’ Futures

Have you heard of adverse childhood experiences? Known as simply “ACEs,” this approach is rapidly gaining attention among the medical community and public health professionals alike. The issue is spanning boundaries and becoming increasingly pressing as studies unfold that early adversity—ACEs and toxic stress—dramatically impacts health outcomes.

A recently released TEDMED talk from Pediatrician Nadine Burke Harris explores this issue deeply. Her interest in ACEs began with a study led by Kaiser Permanente and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which evaluated more than 17,000 adult patients. The study appointed each adult an ACEs score—a number that documented how many adverse childhood experiences each person had, such as abuse, neglect, exposure to domestic violence, and parents who were divorced, mentally ill or incarcerated.

The results were striking. The study found that the higher the ACEs score, the more likely adults suffered from dire health outcomes. Specifically:

  • Those who’ve experienced high levels of trauma are at triple the risk for heart disease and lung cancer.
  • Those with four or more adverse childhood experiences are four times more likely to become depressed, and
  • Twelve times more likely to attempt suicide.

Even more, the study revealed that these health outcomes aren’t just a result of high risk behavior, such as alcohol and drug use, that are spurred by toxic stress. These health outcomes result directly from toxic stress. Burke Harris explains that when a young person is exposed to ACEs, his or her stress system is activated over and over, wearing down the system and affecting brain structure and function. Children are particularly sensitive to the impacts of stress activation since they are still developing, and high doses of adversity can also affect developing hormonal systems, immune systems, and the way DNA is read and transcribed.

To tackle this issue, Burke Harris opened the Center for Youth Wellness in California, where her focus is to prevent, screen and treat children with high ACEs scores. The approach is interdisciplinary—a collaboration across health professionals, families and treatment providers—something that we echo here at Reclaiming Futures.

While our focus at Reclaiming Futures is providing substance use and mental health treatment to teens, and mitigating involvement in the juvenile justice system, it’s valuable to understand how ACEs may impact these teens that we work with daily. It’s our approach—the intersection of treatment, family and mentor involvement, and community reintegration—that has the potential to identify those teens who have high ACEs scores, and identify solutions for getting them back on track to bright futures.

Watch Burke Harris’ full TEDMED talk below to hear more on the ACEs impact on futures:

How Communities are Keeping Kids Out of Crime; News Roundup

Juvenile Justice Reform

  • Federal Juvenile Justice Funding Declines Precipitously (JJIE)
    When congressional lawmakers last reauthorized the landmark Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act, in fiscal year 2002, they appropriated about $547 million for juvenile justice. Today, federal spending on juvenile justice totals less than half that amount — about $251 million.
  • Positive Youth Justice, Part One: Rosie’s Place, Olympia, Wash. (Chronicle of Social Change)
    Last week, The Chronicle of Social Change introduced “Positive Youth Justice: Curbing Crime, Building Assets.” It is a series that imagines an entire continuum of juvenile justice services built on the positive youth development framework. We accomplish the “creation” of that continuum by profiling successful programs and organizations all over the country. Today, we begin with a program in Washington that aims to redirect youth who are, statistically speaking, hurtling towards involvement with law enforcement and the courts.
  • With 'Raise the Age,' Cuomo Continues Push to Reform Juvenile Justice (Gotham Gazette)
    A classic battle between law-and-order Republicans and progressive Democrats is brewing in the state Legislature as Gov. Andrew Cuomo pushes adoption of the recommendations of his Commission on Youth Public Safety and Justice - recommendations that include raising the age at which teens can be tried as adults.
  • How Communities are Keeping Kids Out of Crime (Christian Science Monitor)
    Lucas County, which includes Toledo, is one of the leaders in this movement. Juvenile Court officials here do the “my kid” test with every case. They want to ensure all young people are being treated fairly, and they live by the mantra “The right kid in the right place at the right time” – targeting services to their needs and taking care not to mix children who are unlikely to commit more crimes with high-risk youths.
  • To End Solitary Confinement, Rikers Steps Out Of The Box (NPR)
    New York's Rikers Island is the second-largest jail in the U.S., and one of the most notorious. But with a single move, Rikers has taken the lead on prison reform on one issue: Last month, the prison banned the use of solitary confinement for inmates under 21 years old.

Jobs, Grants, Events and Webinars

  • Please share the Reclaiming Futures Opportunity Board with your colleagues in the juvenile justice, adolescent substance abuse and teen mental health areas. It's free to browse and post!

Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment and Mental Health

  • Rampant medication use found among L.A. County foster, delinquent kids (LA Times)
    Los Angeles County officials are allowing the use of powerful psychiatric drugs on far more children in the juvenile delinquency and foster care systems than they had previously acknowledged, according to data obtained by The Times through a Public Records Act request.
  • Child Experience Study Can Identify Mental Illness Early (TWC News)
    Since the 1990s, doctors have used the Adverse Childhood Experience Study--or ACES--to understand what causes mental health problems in children. That study found that negative experiences in childhood--from abuse to even divorce--can shape the mental health of kids as they grow up.

Michael P. Botticelli is Appointed Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy

Last week, the Senate voted unanimously to appoint Michael P. Botticelli as Director of The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP).Michael_Botticelli

This is a significant step toward advancing sustainable systems change, as Boticelli has a focus on substance use treatment. His two decades of experience working in this field, including as Director of the Bureau of Substance Abuse Services at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, equips him with the skills to implement evidence-based programs and span boundaries among partnerships with law enforcement agencies, health and human service agencies and stakeholder groups. Boticelli also has experience establishing a treatment and prevention systems for adolescents.

Read Boticelli’s introductory remarks as Director on the ONDCP blog and below, and join me in welcoming him to office:

Many great movements to change public perception and policy around a public health issue have been fueled by people with a disease speaking out publicly.  What is seen as someone else's problem—someone else’s disease – takes on a new dimension when people speak up about it.  

Such was the case when Betty Ford revealed her breast cancer diagnosis and her substance use disorder. Such was the case when Magic Johnson's revealed that he was HIV positive, spurring action to stem the AIDS epidemic.

Yet, despite the fact that nearly every family and community in America is affected by a substance use disorder, those fighting to overcome this disease are too often hidden in the shadows of shame and denial.  It is whispered about. It is met with derision and scorn.

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, only 1 in 9 people with a diagnosable substance use disorder gets treatment.  Compare this to the treatment rate for diabetes, for which 72% of people with the disease receive care.

When treatment is provided for substance use disorders, it too often comes at the most acute stages of the disease when effective treatment is far more challenging and costly than in the early stages. Because substance use disorders have historically gone unidentified for far too long, and timely access to treatment has been far too difficult to come by, a person is expected to hit “rock bottom” before seeking help for a substance use disorder.

Standard medical care does not allow a diabetic to enter kidney failure before offering insulin.  Yet untreated substance use disorders routinely proceed unchecked until they have reached such levels of emergency.  In addition to the unnecessary suffering for patients and their families, our current approach costs the United States hundreds of billions a year in increased health care costs, crime and lost productivity-- over $223 billion related to alcohol and $193 billion related to illicit drugs.

Decades of scientific research have proven that substance use disorders are a health issue:  chronic medical conditions with genetic, biological and environmental risk factors.  Effective substance use disorders requires a comprehensive, public health approach involving evidence-based prevention, early intervention, treatment and recovery support services.  The National Drug Control Strategy, the Obama Administration’s template for drug policy, outlines more than 100 action items across federal government to prevent drug use and its consequences.

Earlier this month, President Obama in his 2016 Budget requested historic levels of funding --including $133 million in new funds-- to address the opioid misuse epidemic in the U.S. Using a public health framework as its foundation, our strategy also acknowledges the vital role that federal state and local law enforcement play in reducing the availability of drugs—another risk factor for drug use.  It underscores the vital importance of primary prevention in stopping drug use before it ever begins by funding prevention efforts across the country. It sets forth an agenda aimed at stripping away the systemic challenges that have accumulated like plaque over the decades: over-criminalization, lack of integration with mainstream medical care, insurance coverage and the legal barriers that make it difficult for people once involved with the criminal justice system to rebuild their lives.

The implementation of the Affordable Care Act will dramatically increase coverage for treatment and ensures that services are comparable to other chronic conditions for more than 60 million Americans. This is the biggest expansion of substance use disorder treatment in a generation, and it will transform millions of lives.

All of these advancements, however, are not enough unless we fundamentally change the way we think about people with addiction.  There are millions of people in recovery in the United States leading meaningful, productive lives full of joy and love and laughter – and I am one of them.

Tonight, the United States Senate voted to confirm my nomination as Director of National Drug Control Policy. This is an honor I never dreamed of 26 years ago, when my substance use disorder had become so acute that I was handcuffed to a hospital bed. I accept this challenge with the humility and tenacity of someone in long term recovery.

I am open about my recovery not to be self-congratulatory, I am open about my recovery to change public policy. I have dedicated my life to treating drug use as a public health issue, and that’s how I approach this new role, as well.  I hope that many more of the millions of Americans in recovery like me will also choose to “come out” and to fight to be treated like anyone else with a chronic disease. By putting faces and voices to the disease of addiction and the promise of recovery, we can lift the curtain of conventional wisdom that continues to keep too many of us hidden and without access to lifesaving treatment.

It is time to make a simple, yet courageous decision to be counted, to be seen and to be heard.

Share your story with us today.

Why Keeping Young Offenders Out of Jail Could Reduce Crime; News Roundup

Juvenile Justice Reform

  • Juvenile Justice Reform Bill Moving Forward (Keloland News)
    A plan to change the way South Dakota deals with kids who get in trouble with the law is getting a lot of support in Pierre. The plan, which is similar to the adult justice reform, would keep kids in their own communities rather than sending them to a state facility.
  • States see marked drop in juvenile prison populations as reforms take hold (Washington Post)
    A falling crime rate and new reforms to the way juveniles are treated by the criminal justice system have dramatically cut the number of young people in state prisons, according to a new report that highlights the success of some of those reforms.
  • Why Keeping Young Offenders Out of Jail Could Reduce Crime (PBS Newshour)
    Juvenile offenders kept under supervision close to home, rather than in secure, state-run facilities, are significantly less likely to be arrested again or commit more serious crimes, according to a new study. Judy Woodruff discusses the findings with Xavier McElrath-Bey of the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth and Michael Thompson of the Council of State Governments Justice Center.

Jobs, Grants, Events and Webinars

  • Please share the Reclaiming Futures Opportunity Board with your colleagues in the juvenile justice, adolescent substance abuse and teen mental health areas. It's free to browse and post!

Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment and Mental Health

  • Income Inequality Hurts Teen Health Around The World As Two Factors Grow Together (Medical Daily)
    A new international study published in The Lancet found that socioeconomic disparities between the richest and the poorest in 34 countries widened over the last decade, and have paralleled a growing inequality gap in health. Overall, poor teenagers were more likely to be less physically active, have higher body mass indexes (BMI), and report more physical and psychological troubles, such as headaches and “feeling low.”
  • American Academy of Pediatrics Reconsiders Stance on Marijuana (Pierce Pioneer)
    The policy statement describes, “The AAP strongly supports the decriminalization of marijuana use for both minors and young adults and encourages pediatricians to advocate for laws that prevent harsh criminal penalties for possession or use of marijuana. A focus on treatment for adolescents with marijuana use problems should be encouraged, and adolescents with marijuana use problems should be referred to treatment.”
  • School-Wide Prevention Program Makes Teens Half As Likely To Feel Suicidal (Huffington Post)
    Suicide is the third leading cause of death between the ages of 10 and 24, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Suicide attempts are even more common, with some research suggesting that 4 to 8 percent of high school students try to kill themselves each year, the CDC says.

Trying to Fix America's Broken Juvenile Justice System; News Roundup

Juvenile Justice Reform

  • Trying to Fix America's Broken Juvenile Justice System (Rolling Stone)
    As Congress begins its new session, youth advocates are looking forward to the passage of a bipartisan bill that would strengthen protections for young people involved in the juvenile justice system.
  • Whistleblowers Say DOJ Grants Failed To Protect Kids Behind Bars (NPR)
    There's new scrutiny this year on a federal program that's supposed to protect juveniles in the criminal justice system. Senate lawmakers want to pass a bill that would ensure young people are not locked up alongside adult offenders — and they're quietly investigating the use of federal grant money for the program.
  • New Campaign Seeks to Sharply Reduce Youth Incarceration (JJIE)
    The Youth First! Initiative — founded by longtime juvenile justice advocate Liz Ryan — will also seek to reduce rampant racial and ethnic disparities in juvenile incarceration.

Jobs, Grants, Events and Webinars

  • Please share the Reclaiming Futures Opportunity Board with your colleagues in the juvenile justice, adolescent substance abuse and teen mental health areas. It's free to browse and post!

Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment and Mental Health

  • UF study of drug users finds people with ADHD started using at younger age (UFL News)
    Adults with a history of ADHD who use drugs started using substances one to two years earlier than those with no ADHD history, according to a new University of Florida study. The findings highlight the need for earlier substance-use-prevention interventions in adolescents with ADHD, researchers say.
  • Teens in more control during school-based suicide prevention (The Globe and Mail)
    Dr. Danuta Wasserman, a professor of psychiatry at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, said the program was likely successful because students “felt that the power of mastering their feelings, coping with stress and choosing solutions was in their hands and not decided or forced by adults.”
  • Teen ‘Pharming’ Is a Rising Concern (Psych Central)
    A new review suggests new initiatives are needed to address the rise of “pharming,” or recreational use and abuse of prescription drugs, among teenagers.

Public Health Approach Being Adapted for Kids in Trouble with Substances, the Law; News Roundup

Juvenile Justice Reform

  • New York Under Pressure For Locking Up Teens In Adult Prisons (KQED)
    New York is one of only two states that still locks up 16- and 17-year-olds in adult prisons. A commission report released this week found that those young people — most of them black and Hispanic — face a high risk of assault and victimization behind bars and an increased risk of suicide. Gov. Andrew Cuomo now says he'll push the legislature to raise the age of adult incarceration to 18, a move that could mean the transfer of more than 800 teenagers out of state correctional facilities.

Jobs, Grants, Events and Webinars

  • Please share the Reclaiming Futures Opportunity Board with your colleagues in the juvenile justice, adolescent substance abuse and teen mental health areas. It's free to browse and post!

Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment and Mental Health

  • Parties hopeful meeting cleared air on youth drug court in Jacksonville (
    A plan to improve years of low participation in Jacksonville’s juvenile drug court could be finalized in as little as 30 days. The federal government sent four experts to Jacksonville on Wednesday and Thursday to meet with key players in the court and help with program implementation.

Rikers to Ban Isolation for Inmates 21 and Younger; News Roundup

Juvenile Justice Reform

  • Program Strives To Keeps Kids Out Of Jail, Link Them To Services Instead (Hartford Courant)
    "The longer a child stays out of the juvenile justice system, the better the outcome is for that child," said Bernadette Conway, who is the state's chief administrative judge for juvenile matters." Avoidable school-based arrests needlessly deprive children of an optimum education and all too often grossly compromise a child's ability to succeed in life."
  • Rikers to Ban Isolation for Inmates 21 and Younger (New York Times)
    New York City officials agreed on Tuesday to a plan that would eliminate the use of solitary confinement for all inmates 21 and younger, a move that would place the long-troubled Rikers Island complex at the forefront of national jail reform efforts.

Jobs, Grants, Events and Webinars

  • Please share the Reclaiming Futures Opportunity Board with your colleagues in the juvenile justice, adolescent substance abuse and teen mental health areas. It's free to browse and post!

Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment and Mental Health

  • This Is What Happens When We Lock Children in Solitary Confinement (Mother Jones)
    While in isolation, Kenny—who was diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder prior to the sixth grade—wrote to his mother, Melissa Bucher, begging her to make the two-hour drive to visit him. "I don't feel like I'm going to make it anymore," he wrote. "I'm in seclusion so I can't call and I'm prolly going to be in here for a while. My mind is just getting to me in here."
  • Teens Influenced by Misconceptions of Their Peers (Medical News Today)
    Research published in Developmental Psychology suggests that teenagers tend to overestimate the amount of drugs and alcohol that their peers use, as well as underestimating the amount of studying and exercise they do.
  • Eight Local Health Providers, UWM Respond to Gun Violence at Schools (
    Through a federal grant created to help communities respond to gun violence at schools, eight regional behavioral health providers and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee are working to strengthen trauma and substance abuse counseling services for youth.

National Drug Facts Week: Why It’s Important to Get Teens Talking

Candid conversation and community events will be the focal points of National Drug Facts Week Jan. 26 through Feb. 1, 2015. A national health observance led by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), National Drug Facts Week seeks to work with teens to shatter the myths about drugs and drug abuse.Register to host an educational event for National Drug Facts Week in your community. Get started now with FREE materials!

NIDA encourages schools, community groups, sports clubs, hospitals and other interested organizations to host an event in your community, supported by a robust collection of resources and interactive tools provided by NIDA on its website. The website is even designed with teen-friendly language and graphics to make it easy for teens to also take action and host events among their peers.

NIDA is also hosting a Drug Facts Chat Day on January 30. The online chat will facilitate conversation between high school students and NIDA scientists, so students from around the country can comfortably ask questions they most want answered, knowing that these expert scientists will give them the facts.

At Reclaiming Futures, we believe in the power of facilitating productive conversation with teens about substance use. It helps to illuminate their needs and identifies ways that parents, family members, educators and health professionals can be supportive in paving a healthy and substance-free future.

Our new pilot project, an adaptation of Screening Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT), is an early intervention framework built around a motivational conversation with youth at risk of juvenile justice involvement. We will train front line staff in juvenile justice diversion settings to use screening tools and brief follow up sessions to tailor a treatment response that matches with the youth's level of need and motivation.

Like National Drug Facts Week, this new SBIRT approach seeks to support teens with substance use questions and habits through motivational conversations with health experts. We’re happy to support NIDA’s efforts, and encourage you to share this opportunity.

Visit the National Drug Facts Week website to learn how to host your own community event.

No More Solitary Confinement for Adolescent Inmates in NYC; News Roundup

Juvenile Justice Reform

  • Expert: Juvenile Justice Report Will Spur Reform at Rikers Island (The Forum News Group)
    “This reform will promote better behavior, psychological health and emotional well-being among our youngest inmates while lessening violence,” Department of Correction Commissioner Joseph Ponte said. “It represents best practices and the least restrictive environment, allowing us to respond more appropriately to the special needs of this troubled population, and help them re-integrate into the community when they leave our care and custody.”
  • MacArthur Lauds Juvenile Justice Reformers (JJIE)
    In a written letter to the award recipients, MacArthur Foundation interim President Julia Stasch said: “No movement proceeds on the strength of research alone. Reform is animated by the passion and tenacity of the people who make a cause their cause.”

Jobs, Grants, Events and Webinars

  • Please share the Reclaiming Futures Opportunity Board with your colleagues in the juvenile justice, adolescent substance abuse and teen mental health areas. It's free to browse and post!

Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment and Mental Health

  • Conrad N. Hilton Foundation awards $1.35 million grant to Legal Action Center (Globe NewsWire)
    Through a $1.35 million grant over three years from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, LAC and its partners will evaluate how the full range of adolescent prevention and early intervention services are being offered and to what extent insurers are implementing these services. They also will educate service providers about federal confidentiality requirements crucial to encouraging youth to seek services.
  • LifeWise panel sheds light on youth alcohol abuse (Salt Lake City Weekly)
    Nebraska may offer the good life, but depending on which survey one is reading, its youth now rank from second to the fifth highest in the nation for binge drinking, higher than its surrounding Midwest states.


Honoring the Achievements of Dr. H. Westley Clark

Dr Wesley ClarkWe’re pleased to honor the achievements of Dr. H. Westley Clark in light of his recent retirement including his incredible impact on substance abuse treatment and commitment to the success of our young people.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration recognizes the strides Dr. H. Westley Clark made during his 16 years as the Director of the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT), and more than 30 years in the federal government:

Wes’ professional life is one marked by non-stop accomplishments and accolades (such as the AMA’s John P. McGovern Award, Presidential Rank Award, Vernelle Fox Award from the California Society of Addiction Medicine, Solomon Carter Fuller Award from the American Psychiatric Association, and multiple Awards for Distinguished Service from the HHS Secretary). His long and distinguished career has had significant impacts on the research, practice, policies and programs in the treatment of substance use disorders. Wes is a graduate of the chemistry program at Detroit’s Wayne State University, the University of Michigan schools of medicine and public health, and Harvard law school. He also completed a two-year Substance Abuse Fellowship at the Department of Veteran Affairs Medical Center in San Francisco, where he served as Associate Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of California at San Francisco (UCSF). He also served as senior program consultant to the Robert Wood Johnson Substance Abuse Policy Program and supported a number of National Institute of Drug Abuse-funded research grants.

Reclaiming Futures is happy to have worked parallel to Dr. H. Westley Clark and support his work in substance abuse treatment. We have admired his leadership in the recovery movement and commitment to increasing access to treatment services. In 2007 and 2009, Dr. Clark secured Reclaiming Futures funding from the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT), along with OJJDP, to help us support sites implementing our model. He will be recognized for his lasting accomplishments, and we will continue to look toward his work for solutions and inspiration.

Image from SAMHSA website

Reclaiming Futures in the Sea of Juvenile Justice Reform Initiatives

In the national scope of evidence-supported juvenile justice “reforms”, a question is often posed as to which approach or model makes the most sense to potential adopters. Or said another way, can we avoid “model fatigue” by adopting one reform methodology that gets us the best results with the most cost effective strategies?

Disaster Mental Health Treatment: Looking Back at Hurricane Sandy

 Flickr user sikeri

Two years ago Hurricane Sandy struck the northeastern coast of the U.S., killing dozens, destroying thousands of homes and affecting the mental health of individuals and communities as a result.

New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH) received a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to deliver counseling services to those affected, but as OMH Medical Director Lloyd I. Sederer addresses, were these services enough?

Sederer explains in his Huffington Post article that the grants provided to communities delivered three services: outreach to impacted communities, education on common disaster reactions and coping skills, and brief crisis counseling. What’s missing from this bundle of services provided is mental health treatment, despite a 50 percent participation rate in existing crisis counseling services provided.

The most intriguing part of the article is Sederer’s proposed solutions, some of which fall right in line with what Reclaiming Futures champions for mental health and substance abuse treatment. Particularly, Sederer recommends Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral for Treatment (SBIRT) as a valuable addition to traditional counseling services, and specifies, “SBIRT has been used in primary care and emergency settings with notable results.”

Reclaiming Futures is designing and piloting a new version of SBIRT for court-involved adolescents in five sites across the country, offering a promising start to the expanded and more robust mental health treatment programs that Sederer refers to—and for a population who, like those impacted by tragedies like Sandy, are vulnerable to the impact of trauma and loss. Evan Elkin, who is developing the Reclaiming Futures SBIRT model, says:  “Court-involved adolescents show high rates of trauma and often show mental health symptoms that fly under the radar until they get much worse. We view SBIRT as a very nimble and effective way to intervene early with large numbers of vulnerable young people who arrive at the doorstep of the juvenile justice system.”

Montgomery County Partnership Targeting Youth with Substance Abuse Issues

Cassandra Russell, national trainer for The Seven Challenges, presents

On Wednesday, October 22, 2014, Montgomery County Juvenile Court, South Community Inc., along with the support of the Ohio Department of Youth Services, hosted a community overview to kick off the expansion of much needed outpatient adolescent substance abuse and co-occurring treatment in the community! South Community, Inc., a private behavioral health group, and Montgomery County Juvenile Court collaborated to bring the program, The Seven Challenges, to the area.

Judge Nick Kuntz and Judge Anthony Capizzi commended Juvenile Court and South Community staff for their efforts and working together to bring evidence-based treatment options to the youth of Montgomery County. The Seven Challenges is an evidence-based model supported by the National Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and is designed to motivate a decision and commitment to change among adolescents struggling with substance abuse.

Cassandra Russell, a national trainer for The Seven Challenges, provided an overview during the community kick off. The initial training and implementation of The Seven Challenges was funded through the Ohio Department of Youth Services. Continued funding is provided through the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Drug Court Enhancement grant until October 2017.

SAMHSA Releases 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health Results

samhsaThe Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) recently released the results of the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). NSDUH, the Nation’s largest survey of drug use and drug-related attitudes, perceptions and consequences, interviews approximately 70,000 Americans who are 12 and older.

The resulting report displays national estimates on rates of use, numbers of users, and other measures related to illicit drugs, alcohol and tobacco products, with a focus on trends between 2012 and 2013 and from 2002 to 2013.

Key findings of the 2013 NSDUH are as follows:

  • In 2013, an estimated 24.6 million Americans aged 12 or older were current (past month) illicit drug users, representing 9.4 percent of this population.
  • Current illicit drug use in 2013 was statistically unchanged from 2012 (9.2 percent) but continues a gradual increase since 2002.
  • Almost 20 million (4 out of 5 current illicit drug users) used marijuana alone or in combination with other drugs.
  • Among current marijuana users, 8 million (2 out of 5) were daily or almost daily users, who used marijuana on 20 or more days in the past month.
  • An estimated 2.8 million persons aged 12 or older used an illicit drug for the first time within the past 12 months – an average of about 7,800 new users per day.
  • Most of the above new users (7 out of 10) reported that their first drug was marijuana. About 1 in 5 initiated with non-medical use of prescription drugs.

For complete findings, view 2013 NSDUH: Summary of National Findings.

Note: NSDUH national estimates related to mental health and NSDUH State-level estimates related to both substance use and mental health will be published in separate releases in the fall of 2014.

Speak Up! Share Your Story of Recovery from Addiction in an Important Video Contest

Do you know somebody who has an inspiring message of recovery to share? In a special 25th anniversary celebration of National Recovery Month, the Addiction Technology Transfer Center Network (ATTC) invites people in recovery from addiction or mental illness to share their stories in 60-second segments.

The “In My Own Words...” Video Message Contest aims to spread a message of hope by recognizing the accomplishments of recovering Americans, and those who have been instrumental in others’ recoveries. By collecting and sharing video stories of those who have succeeded in recovery, we can stifle the negative stigma of addiction and encourage others to speak out and ask for help.

The contest asks participants to address one of the following two prompts in a 60-second video message:
I’m speaking up about my recovery because…
I’m reaching out about my recovery to…
The “In My Own Words...” Video Message Contest, sponsored in conjunction with Faces & Voices of Recovery and Young People in Recovery, closes October 15, 2014.

Head to the ATTC Network for complete instructions on submitting a “In My Own Words...” video.

Celebrate Recovery Month: Tune Into the White House Special Event September 17

You’re invited to tune into a live broadcast of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) on September 17 at 2-4pm ET. This White House special event celebrates the 25th anniversary of the National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month.

The event will celebrate the millions of individuals who have reclaimed their lives by overcoming addiction, and those who have persevered with them to aid their success.

You can help recognize these individuals at the event by tweeting questions and comments to @Botticelli44 using the hashtag #RecoveryatWH at any time prior to or during the event. Questions will be selected and posed to the panelists in recovery at the event.

Visit the live broadcast on September 17, or host a viewing party and register here.

With your help, we can take an important pause to highlight stories of recovery, uplift the negative stigma of addiction and take the next step toward a national commitment to recovery.

  • Who: You, your stakeholders, members and affiliates, and ONDCP
  • What: A ONDCP White House special event viewing party
  • Where: Your venue of choice +
  • When: September 17th | 2 – 4pm EST
  • Contact: Nataki MacMurray at or (202) 395-5510


New Study Identifies Text Messaging as an Alcohol Prevention Tactic Among Teens

textingA recent study in the Annals of Emergency Medicine has identified text messaging as an effective strategy for reducing levels of harmful drinking among teens.

The 12-week study, A Text Message Alcohol Intervention for Young Adult Emergency Department Patients, observed more than 700 young adults with a hazardous drinking history and a recent emergency room visit. The study participants were organized into three groups:

  • Texted questions
  • Texted questions with feedback
  • Control group (no texted questions)

The researchers found that teens who received texted questions about their drinking—along with feedback on their replies via text—reduced their self-reported drinks per day by 31 percent. These individuals also decreased self-reported binge drinking days by 51 percent.

Groups that received no texts or no texted questions with feedback each experienced more binge drinking days.

The feedback received by the group whose drinking was reduced included these main outcomes:

  • A strengthened low-risk drinking plan
  • Reflection on an existing low-risk plan or a prior decision not to have one

New Study Provides Insight Into Early Indicators of Alcohol Misuse Among Teens

teendrinkingFindings of a recent study published in Natureclaim that it is possible to predict which teens will likely become binge drinkers. The study, “Neuropsychosocial Profiles of Current and Future Adolescent Alcohol Misusers,” found that several factors can help predict future substance abuse:

  • Genetics
  • Brain function
  • Personality traits
  • History

The researchers of the study took brain scans of about 700 14-year-olds from all over Europe and analyzed their personality traits, life experiences, genetics, and drinking habits. Two years later, the researchers followed up with the now 16-year-old teens and found that the above factors served as indicators of future unhealthy drinking habits.

These results lead researchers to believe they may be able to develop a tool to accurately predict who is prone to abusing alcohol—knowledge that will allow them to better help people avoid addiction.

Hugh Garavan, an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Vermont and the study's senior author, says more research is need before a tool like this can be created.

“Still, this does bring us one step closer to understanding the roots of addiction,” Garavan said.

The researchers will continue to check in with the teenagers of the study to monitor their drinking habits. The participants of this study were all white European teenagers, thus further research will likely be focused on different ethnic groups.

The National Association of Drug Court Professionals Celebrates 25th Anniversary of Drug Courts at Annual Conference

The National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP) celebrated the 25th anniversary of Drug Courts with its historic 20th annual training conference in Anaheim, California. NADCP is a national nonprofit founded in 1994 by pioneers from the first twelve Drug Courts in the nation, and the preeminent source for comprehensive training and cutting-edge technical assistance to the entire Drug Court field.
From May 28-31, more than 4,500 justice and treatment professionals from across the globe came to celebrate and participate at the 20th annual training conference. This conference remains the world’s largest that focuses on substance abuse, mental health and criminal justice.
Celebrities in attendance included legendary actor Joaquin Phoenix, All Rise Ambassadors Matthew Perry and Martin Sheen, and Grammy Album of the Year winner Paul Williams.
Whether you were in Anaheim or not, the NADCP invites you to check out program handouts and conference materials, watch videos of the star-studded Opening and Closing ceremonies—including the always gripping Parade of Transformation—and browse thousands of pictures.

Tomorrow: Aberdeen, WA Rocks Out for Community Addiction Awareness

Editor's note: this article originally appeared on Rockers In Recovery
Summer is finally here, the grills have all burned off some burgers and dogs, and concert season is in the air. Two synonymous signs of summer are that heat and music both on the rise. Once car windows roll down, and music pours out, it’s time to start the concerts.
Rockers In Recovery(RIR) is kicking off the concert tour season this June 27, 2014 in Aberdeen, Washington, where the RIR East Coast All-Stars, Current Musical Director Lou Esposito (Joe Walsh) will be rockin’ the west coast, in addition to Casey Montana Rogers making her grand debut.
The Director of the band engages the RIR All-Star five-piece band with the help of their Musical Contributors. The Directors then rotate in and out three Musical Contributors on each show based on their availability. This makes for a new experience each time you see the band and NOT JUST THE SAME OLD, SAME OLD.
Unconditional support is paramount in recovery. It isn’t just the addict who is in program, it is the whole family. Addiction hits us all, which is why we all need to celebrate together, because each person is as significant as the other. All of the concerts are free and open to the public because recovery is fun and meant for everyone to understand and share what it is about – unconditional love and support between the recovering addicts and the families and friends.