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Prevalence and characteristics of substance abuse treatment utilization by US adolescents: National data from 1987 to 2008

Publication Abstract

Ilgen, Mark A., John E. Schulenberg, Deborah D. Kloska, Ewa Czyz, Lloyd Johnston, and Patrick M. O'Malley. 2011. "Prevalence and characteristics of substance abuse treatment utilization by US adolescents: National data from 1987 to 2008." Addictive Behaviors, 36(12): 1349-1352.

Objective Although many adolescents use and abuse illicit drugs, few of those who could benefit from substanceabusetreatment ever receive these services. The present study examines the prevalence of utilization of substanceabusetreatment in national samples of adolescents over the past 22 years and identifies characteristics associated with receipt of these services.

Method Monitoring the Future data on lifetime utilization of substanceabusetreatment was available for 12th grade students who reported any lifetime illicit drug use from 1987 to 2008 (N = 25,537). After describing the prevalence of treatmentutilization over this time period, logistic regression was used to examine potential predictors of treatmentutilization.

Results The overall prevalence of treatmentutilization has remained relatively unchanged over the past 22 years. In multivariable models, adolescents reporting a greater frequency of lifetime use of marijuana or cocaine were more likely to receive substanceabusetreatment. Additionally, substanceabusetreatmentutilization was more likely in those who received other mental health services.

Conclusion Despite increased evidence for the effectiveness of substanceabusetreatment, utilization of these services by adolescents has remained low and relatively stable over the past 22 years. Attempts to increase utilization of substanceabusetreatment services would likely benefit from building on existing connections with mental health treatment.


DOI:10.1016/j.addbeh.2011.07.036 (Full Text)

PMCID: PMC3269242. (Pub Med Central)

Country of focus: United States.

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