Researchers evaluated the level of effectiveness of the juvenile drug court for 161 offenders who met the diagnostic criteria for substance dependence or use. The study aimed at determining whether integrating evidence-based practices improved the overall outcomes of the juvenile drug court. For one year, a random design was used to evaluate outcomes for drug and substance use, criminal acts, incarcerations, and symptomatology of 161 dependent juveniles who were abusing drugs assigned to one of the treatment conditions. The primary objectives were to establish whether juvenile drug court facilitated better outcomes when compared to the family court system, integrating interventions based on evidence into the juvenile court enhanced outcomes and integrating contingency management (CM) into multi-systemic therapy (MST) enhanced students MST outcomes for substance use. Alcohol and substance use are usually measured using various self-reports as well as biological indices (Yelderman, 2016). Criminal behavior was assessed through self-reports together with records of arrests. Symptoms of mental health were assessed using the caregiver reports. The final findings were in favor of the view that drug court services were more efficient than using the family court in reducing crime and substance use in adolescents (Chapman, Sheidow, Henggeler, Halliday-Boykings, & Cunningham, 2008) Chapman. The findings also conquered with the literature on the effectiveness of family courts, that the use of evidence-based treatments improves substance-related outcomes for the youths (Edwards, 2013).
The researchers noted several limitations. First, implementation of the principles for juvenile courts is likely to vary from one site to another leading to conflicting findings. Second, there were difficulties in timing the assessments resulting to some treatment conditions being favored. The study raised concerns as it never included follow-ups. Resources were not present in family court for frequent urine screens as compared to those in the drug court conditions. Though not all positive, the final results were encouraging. Drug testing at frequent intervals and better judicial supervision will enhance better outcomes.
Edwards, L. (2013). Ethical Issues in the Family Drug Treatment Court. Juvenile And Family Court Journal, 64(1), 1-21. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jfcj.12000
Henggeler, S., Chapman, J., Rowland, M., Halliday-Boykins, C., Randall, J., Shackelford, J., & Schoenwald, S. (2008). Statewide adoption and initial implementation of contingency management for substance-abusing adolescents. Journal Of Consulting And Clinical Psychology, 76(4), 556-567. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0022-006x.76.4.556Yelderman, L. (2016). An Assessment of Juvenile Drug Courts Knowledge of Evidence-Based Practices, Data Collection, and the Use of AA/NA. Juvenile And Family Court Journal, 67(1), 33-48. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jfcj.12055
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