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Keywords:

  • adolescent;
  • substance abuse;
  • treatment;
  • drug;
  • outcome

There are relatively few studies on adolescent substance abuse treatment. The ones that exist tend to be methodologically weak. Methodologically stronger studies have usually found most adolescents receiving treatment to have significant reductions in substance use and problems in other life areas in the year following treatment. Average rate of sustained abstinence after treatment is 38% (range, 30–55) at 6 months and 32% at 12 months (range, 14–47). Variables most consistently related to successful outcome are treatment completion, low pretreatment substance use, and peer/ parent social support/nonuse of substances. There is evidence that treatment is superior to no treatment, but insufficient evidence to compare the effectiveness of treatment types. The exception to this is that outpatient family therapy appears superior to other forms of outpatient treatment.