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Juvenile Probation Officers Call for a New Response To Teen Drug and Alcohol Use and Dependency

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Abstract:

Across the United States, teen alcohol and drug use is inextricably linked to juvenile crime. Yet, despite the tragic victimization and tremendous economic loss that results from this problem, few alcohol- and drug-involved teens get the treatment they need. The goal of Reclaiming Futures, a five-year, $21-million initiative sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is to improve collaboration among juvenile justice professionals, treatment providers, community organizations and others so that they may better serve teens with alcohol and drug problems in their communities. This model is currently being piloted in 10 communities across the country.

Approximately 2.3 million teens in the United States need some form of drug and alcohol treatment, but less than 9 percent receive any treatment at all. Better collaboration between the juvenile justice system and alcohol and drug treatment providers can increase the number of alcohol- and drug-involved teens who receive treatment—and improve their school performance, their family relationships, and their positive connections to the communities in which they live.

The goal of this report is to share the lessons learned in implementing Reclaiming Futures. Written by juvenile justice professionals for juvenile justice professionals, it is also written for our justice system partners, treatment providers, family service agencies, policy-makers, and community leaders who have a stake in the success of our work.