Academic journal article Journal of Addictions & Offender Counseling

A Preliminary Study Using the Substance Abuse Subtle Screening Inventory-Adolescent Form as an Outcome Measure with Adolescent Offenders

Academic journal article Journal of Addictions & Offender Counseling

A Preliminary Study Using the Substance Abuse Subtle Screening Inventory-Adolescent Form as an Outcome Measure with Adolescent Offenders

Article excerpt

The authors describe a preliminary study using the Substance Abuse Subtle Screening Inventory--Adolescent Form (SASSI-A; F. Miller, 1994) as an outcome measure with adolescent offenders. Results indicate that the SASSI-A can be successfully used as a treatment planning tool as well as a measure to evaluate programs.


Juvenile delinquency has long been associated with certain societal ills, such as easy access to alcohol and other drugs (Hawkins et al., 2000). Hawkins et al. (2000) and Hawkins, Catalano, and Miller (1992) have found mounting evidence that adolescents who are most at risk for committing serious crimes tend to display high alcohol and other drug (AOD) abuse levels. Huizinga, Loeber, Thornberry, and Cothern (2000) have also described this co-occurrence or overlap of serious delinquency with AOD use. Bauman, Merta, and Steiner (1999) noted that adolescent offenders have a higher incidence of AOD abuse, which presents numerous health risks, than do adults. Moreover, they asserted that adolescent AOD abuse was a national problem requiring the attention of all professionals involved with adolescents, especially professionals working with delinquent youths. A recent study conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration noted that 9 of 10 youths who needed drug treatment were not getting it (Leinwand, 1998). That study's recommendations included early and effective identification and treatment.

AOD Assessment and Treatment of Adolescent Offenders

To promote the effectiveness of treatment, Hawkins et al. (1992), Hawkins et al. (2000), and Huizinga et al. (2000) noted the importance of accurately assessing the frequency and intensity of AOD use among adolescent offenders so that instead of collapsing all AOD-abusing adolescent offenders into a single broad and clinically impotent category (e.g., AOD abusing or non-AOD abusing), AOD-abusing offenders can be placed into treatment groups based on the severity of their AOD misuse. Rogers, Cashel, Johansen, Sewell, and Gonzalez (1997) supported this stance. They encouraged clear treatment delineation between delinquent adolescents who met the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition, text revision (DSM--IV--TR; American Psychiatric Association, 2000), criteria as AOD abusing or dependent compared with the delinquent adolescents who did not meet the DSM--IV--TR's criteria.

In addition, Hawkins et al. (1992) and Hawkins et al. (2000) suggested assessing the differences between male and female adolescent offenders to promote increased treatment effectiveness. This seems to be clinically appropriate, given that adolescent girls are committing an increased number of serious and violent crimes (Acoca, 1998; Anderson, 1996; Kroupa, 1988; D. Miller, Trapani, Fejes-Mendoza, & Eggleston, 1995; Zoccolillo & Rogers, 1992).

Residential treatment is common for AOD-abusing adolescent offenders (LeCroy & Ashford, 1992; Libman, Lyons, Kisiel, & Shallcross, 1998; Lyons, Kisiel, Dulcan, Cohen, & Chesler, 1997). MacKenzie (1999) recently found that delinquent adolescents' out-of-home placements grew 51% between 1987 and 1996. Strikingly, the number of out-of-home placements associated with AOD offenses (e.g., drug dealing) and offenses against individuals (e.g., assault) grew by more than 100% between 1987 and 1996. Bauman et al. (1999) found that youths in residential treatment scored significantly higher on baseline substance abuse measures than did students in alternative high schools. Yet, because formal AOD assessment is often not common practice, there continues to be a strong need for accurate AOD assessment and treatment of youths in residential settings (Libman et al., 1998; Lyons et al., 1997).

Libman et al. (1998) asserted that in order to more successfully determine the appropriateness of treatment planning for those in residential settings, the individual needs of recipient children must be assessed in a systematic, reliable, and clinically relevant manner. …

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