In two separate blog posts in 2016, we discussed opioid use rates and substance use issues among adolescent girls involved with juvenile justice. In July 2017, the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women’s Health (OWH) released a report on opioid use, misuse, and overdose in women. The report provides information on the gender-specific issues and gaps in knowledge regarding females with substance use concerns/disorders. The report discusses the differences among females and males regarding the progression of substance use, the biological, social, and cultural issues (e.g., pain; relationships; family/parenting; trauma, determinants of health), effective treatments and barriers to implementation, and areas for further research. As it relates to adolescent girls (ages 12-17 years old), the report indicates they are more likely to use and become dependent on non-medical uses of prescription drugs as compared to adolescent boys. Access to prescription drugs can come from a home medicine cabinet and may help relieve mental health or physical pain symptoms and/or be part of their peer culture.
Reasons why I am proud to write this blog post...
Reason 1: My former colleagues (and friends) at The University of Arizona, Southwest Institute for Research on Women (UA SIROW) (UA SIROW) have been leading the efforts on the national evaluation of Juvenile Drug Courts and Juvenile Drug Courts blended with Reclaiming Futures (JDC/RF). UA SIROW collaborated with Chestnut Health Systems and Carnevale Associates, LLC to implement a comprehensive evaluation that included data from Juvenile Drug Courts, Juvenile Drugs Courts blended with Reclaiming Futures, and non-justice related intensive adolescent outpatient programs. The purpose was to examine processes, outcomes, and costs.
Reclaiming Futures is committed to the equitable treatment of troubled youth—nurturing each of them on a path toward health and prosperity, rather than incarceration. To do this, we must be able to identify and end the patterns of discrimination and victimization at play in our schools and our juvenile justice systems.
Translational research is concerned with moving basic (“bench”) research to clinical and ultimately practical benefit (“bedside”). If research can in fact demonstrate beneficial outcomes, then it may even lead to policy changes.
Calling all researchers!
The Journal of Research on Adolescence (JRA) is seeking submissions for a special section called, "Youth Gangs and Adolescent Development: New Findings, New Challenges, and New Directions." From the announcement:
The wealth of data on youth gangs available from law enforcement and juvenile justice research is particularly striking in comparison to the relatively small empirical and theoretical developmental literature on youth gangs. Indeed, despite the vast literature on the development of aggressive and antisocial behavior more generally, only a handful of published studies have addressed critical developmental issues on youth gang involvement. For example, we know that gang membership is linked to elevated involvement in violent behavior as well as violent victimization; that joining a gang accelerates entry in delinquent behavior; and that gang involvement is linked to a number of factors in the peer, neighborhood, and family environments. But much remains to be explored, especially with respect to how developmental theory on adolescence can inform our understanding of the personal and contextual determinants and consequences of gang involvement. Among the key questions in need of attention are:
For youth at general risk for aggression and delinquency, what specific factors lead youth to join gangs or avoid joining gangs?
What dispositional or contextual dynamics account for youths’ sustained involvement in gang activity or desistance from gang activity?
What are the positive developmental functions of gang involvement, particularly with respect to theory and research on normative developmental tasks of adolescence?
What are the relations between gang involvement and other indicators of adolescent problem behavior such as substance use, risky sexual behavior, and academic adjustment?
What are the optimal methods for studying youth gangs from a developmental perspective, taking into account typical challenges or barriers to valid inquiry on this topic?