JMATE 2012: Day 3 Takeaways

Whew, what an incredible (and jam-packed) three days! Here are our very quick takeaways from the final day of the Joint Meeting on Adolescent Treatment Effectiveness 2012:
Susan Richardson, National Executive Director, Reclaiming Futures

  • Youth consume more than 90% of their alcohol by binge drinking. And unfortunately, 5,000 young people under the age of 21 die annually as a result of binge drinking.
  • Only half of kids are asked about or screened for drinking and smoking when they visit a physician. 
  • When screening for substance use, the best questions to ask are about frequency of drinking and friends' drinking habits.
  • When working with at-risk kids, it's critical to take a hard look at an substance an adolescent has used more than five times.
  • The Longitudinal Pathways to Desistance Study is an important resource for those working with seriously offending teens.
  • A substance use disorder changes the relationship between risk markers and gainful activity over 6 years (mental health diagnoses do not). A substance use disorder makes things much worse.
  • Treatment provides a positive effect on marijuana use, offending and alcohol consumption for a period of time IF treatment continues for a sufficient length of time.

Liz Wu, Blog Editor, Reclaiming Futures



  • Childhood mental health problems increase the risk of substance use and addiction and substance use increases the risk of developing mental health problems.
  • If you offer free treatment, 80% will come in without court mandates.
  • When working with troubled youth, refrain from using the terms "treatment" and "recovery" because they have negative connotations. Instead consider "groups" "classes" or something less charged.
  • Nationally, the numbers of heroin users hasn't changed much since the 90s but this doesn't explain what is really happening. Older users are probably incarcerated or have passed away. Young people make up the majority of heroin users.
  • Teens think opioids are safe and legal because they can steal from family members with prescriptions. This isn't true and we need to do a better job of educating them.
  • It's important to have young people in recovery participate in a sober support meeting or pro-social activity every single day of the week. Five days of the week isn't enough - weekends are crucial.

Stay tuned for additional panel write-ups to come! And please share our JMATE coverage with your colleagues and networks. In fact, if you'd like to re-print any of our pieces on your blog or newspaper or newsletter, please e-mail me at info AT reclaimingfutures DOT com.

Liz Wu is a Digital Accounts Manager at Prichard Communications, where she oversees digital outreach for Reclaiming Futures and edits Reclaiming Futures Every Day. Before joining the Prichard team, Liz established the West Coast communications presence for the New America Foundation, where she managed all media relations, event planning and social media outreach for their 6 domestic policy programs. Liz received a B.A. in both Peace and Conflict Studies and German from the University of California at Berkeley. She tweets from @LizSF.

Updated: April 13 2012