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Substance use, education, employment, and criminal activity outcomes of adolescents in outpatient chemical dependency programs

Although the primary outcome of interest in clinical evaluations of addiction treatment programs is usually abstinence, participation in these programs can have a wide range of consequences. This study evaluated the effects of treatment initiation on substance use, school attendance, employment, and involvement in criminal activity at 12 months post-admission for 419 adolescents (aged 12 to 18) enrolled in chemical dependency recovery programs in a large managed care health plan. Instrumental variables estimation methods were used to account for unobserved selection into treatment by jointly modeling the likelihood of participation in treatment and the odds of attaining a certain outcome or level of an outcome. Treatment initiation significantly increased the likelihood of attending school, promoted abstinence, and decreased the probability of adolescent employment, but it did not significantly affect participation in criminal activity at the 12-month follow-up. These findings highlight the need to address selection in a non-experimental study and demonstrate the importance of considering multiple outcomes when assessing the effectiveness of adolescent treatment.

Authors: Balsa AI; Homer JF; French MT; Weisner CM

J Behav Health Serv Res. 2009 Jan;36(1):75-95. Epub 2007 Dec 7.

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