The child welfare system may be the locus of a vicious circle of intergenerational substance use. In the U.S.some 8.3 million teens dependent on alcohol or otherwise needing treatment for substance use actually residewith substance-abusing parents who were maltreated as children. Maltreated children of parents who abusesubstances are more likely to abuse substances in adulthood. Teens involved in CWS have an abundance ofrisk factors and few protective factors against substance abuse. Given the abundance of risk for CWS involvedteens, CWS can serve as an important gateway to substance abuse prevention services. CWS has thepotential to serve as a robust non-specialty service sector platform because it can facilitate targeting of highrisk youth, sustain both preventive and substance abuse treatment programs, and allows for the capture ofteens and their caregivers in a mandated treatment setting. The literature on predictors of substance useinitiation and intensity among CWS involved teens is still emerging, as is the literature on prevention andtreatment services. Therefore, the overall goal of the proposed research is to conduct analyses of an extantnational probability cohort of child welfare involved teens to determine the prevalence and impact of substanceuse, predictors of substance abuse over the course of adolescent development, and the role that current childwelfare services play in ameliorating substance use and abuse. To accomplish this goal, we propose a threeyear study in response to PAR-10-018, Accelerating the Pace of Drug Abuse Research Using ExistingEpidemiology, Prevention, and Treatment Research Data, which highlights: 1) basic science developmentrelated to knowledge of risk and resilient trajectories of drug using behaviors among CWS teens; and 2)analyses of the organizational and system contexts that improve the accessibility, utilization, and, effectivenessof substance abuse prevention services within a non-specialty sector. The overall goal will be addressed bythe following specific aims: 1) Investigate prevalence and longitudinal trajectories of initiation and intensity ofsubstance use among teens in CWS; 2)Investigate predictors of substance use for teens in CWS; 3) Identifycommon points for entry into substance abuse services, service utilization patterns, and service utilizationoutcomes for teens in CWS; and 4) Develop a prevention intervention framework for selecting and fittingevidence based interventions to address substance use among CWS involved teens.
This study aims to provide: an account of the time points in children's lives when preventive intervention can be most efficacious;2) provide an appraisal of sub-populations of CWS involved teens for whom addiction services will be most relevant based on personal risk factors, environmental vulnerabilities, and service utilization patterns;and 3) undergird child welfare as a potential preventive intervention platform. This work will inform efforts to develop and mount evidence based interventions on a child welfare platform in order to address the needs of this underserved, heavily burdened segment of the population at risk for substance abuse.