What role can the juvenile justice system play in addressing adolescent drug abuse?
Involvement in the juvenile justice system is unfortunately a reality for many substance-abusing adolescents, but it presents a valuable opportunity for intervention. Substance use treatment can be incorporated into the juvenile justice system in several ways. These include:
- screening and assessment for drug abuse upon arrest
- initiation of treatment while awaiting trial
- access to treatment programs in the community in lieu of incarceration (e.g., juvenile treatment drug courts)46,47
- treatment during incarceration followed by community-based treatment after release
Coordination and collaboration between juvenile justice professionals, drug abuse treatment providers, and other social service agencies are essential in getting needed treatment to adolescent offenders, about one half of whom have substance use disorders.48