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Adolescents have been reported to be less motivated to engage and remain in substance abuse treatment than adults. When they appear motivated, it is often due to external motivators such as family pressure or court mandated treatment. The purpose of this study was to determine if adolescents' motivation to change alcohol use was related to treatment engagement while incarcerated and alcohol use after release. Participants (N = 114) were youth in a state correctional facility in the Northeast and included adolescents who engaged in at least monthly drinking. Motivation to change alcohol use was measured by the Alcohol Ladder (AL), and treatment engagement was measured by the Treatment Participation Questionnaire (comprised of positive and negative treatment engagement). Measures were administered at baseline, 2 months in facility follow up, and 3 months post release follow up. Analysis indicated acceptable test-retest stability (r = .388, p ≤ .001). The AL at 3 months post release significantly predicted quantity and frequency of alcohol use after release. The AL at baseline also significantly predicted positive and negative treatment engagement at 2 months into incarceration (i.e., 2 months in facility follow up) indicating predictive validity. These results suggest that the AL is a reliable, valid, and useful instrument for incarcerated youth.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.