A randomized clinical trial of motivational interviewing plus skills training vs. Relaxation plus education and 12-Steps for substance using incarcerated youth: Effects on alcohol, marijuana and crimes of aggression

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Background: Motivational Interviewing plus Cognitive Behavior Therapy (MI/CBT) has been used to reduce adolescent substance use, but has rarely been applied in youth correctional settings. This trial compared MI/CBT against Relaxation Training plus Substance-Education/12-Steps (RT/SET) to reduce substance use and crime among incarcerated youth. Methods: Participants (N = 199) were incarcerated juveniles (64.8 % non-White, 10.1 % girls, mean age of 17.1 years). Two individual sessions of MI (or RT) were followed by 10 group sessions of CBT (or SET). Youth were randomized to condition with follow-ups at 3- and 6-months after release. Major outcomes included alcohol, marijuana and crimes involving aggression. Results: A marginal treatment by time interaction was found for percent heavy drinking days, with follow-up tests indicating less alcohol use in RT/SET than MI/CBT at 6 months, and increased use within MI/CBT from 3 to 6 months. A significant treatment by time interaction was found for alcohol-related predatory aggression, with follow-up tests indicating fewer youth engaged in this behavior from 3 to 6 months within RT/SET, and weak evidence favoring MI/CBT over RT/SET at 3 months. General predatory aggression decreased from 3 to 6-months for both treatments. Conclusions: Although weak evidence was found favoring MI/CBT with respect to alcohol-related predatory aggression, results generally support RT/SET in reducing percent heavy drinking days.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

Drug and Alcohol Dependence