Approximately 343,000 teens are arrested each year for drug and alcohol related crimes; 1.8 million teens need treatment for substance abuse while only 1 in 16 receive it. Dan Merrigan, Associate Professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences at Boston University, covers what he believes should happen to positively change the above facts in his recent article “Rethinking Juvenile Justice.”
Merrigan claimed that to begin combating this problem among teens, the juvenile courts should no longer be the leading service for youth with substance abuse problems. Merrigan emphasized the promising research that demonstrates organizations or programs with a multisystemic continuum of care approach are much more suited to make a difference for teens.
In the article, Reclaiming Futures was referenced as a tested model for this approach:
“Reclaiming Futures is not a program. Rather, it is an organizational change and system reform that uses a six-step model…to interact with the community and improve outcomes for youth in the justice system.”
This approach is seen by Merrigan as well suited to combat teen substance abuse problems as it provides prevention and intervention outlets, recovery support, incentives for change, and community involvement to young people in need. These different offerings have been proven effective to break the cycle of substance abuse and recidivism for teens.
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