Runaway shelters document high levels of alcohol abuse amongst runaway youth; estimates range from 70% to 85%, with only 15% having ever received treatment for alcohol problems. Research suggests that this population may be unique in the range and intensity of associated problems, including high rates of suicide attempts, pregnancy, prostitution, comorbid diagnoses and criminality. The abuse and neglect experienced by these youth on the streets is compounded by societal neglect in addressing the needs of a population sorely requiring intervention. Shelters for runaways are overcrowded, and many shelters are not equipped to treat youth for alcohol, family and related problems beyond crisis intervention. Most studies to date have collected self-report data on the family and social history. Virtually no research has examined treatment effectiveness in this population. Given the void of treatment outcome research with these youths, and the high level of risk for health and psychological problems, there is a great need for identifying potent interventions. Although research supports the effectiveness of family-based interventions in reducing substance use among adolescents, systematic study of these approaches is sparse, especially when applied to runaway youth, a subpopulation of drinking adolescents. In this proposed work, runaway adolescents will be randomly assigned to: 1) an ecologically-focused, intensive, home-based approach; 2) a traditional office-based approach; or 3) """"""""practice as usual"""""""" through the shelter. The efficacy of these approaches in reducing alcohol use, days reducing on the streets, and increasing family and psychological functioning in youth will be examined. Maintenance of treatment effects over time, as well as factors associated with treatment engagement and continuation, will be examined.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
Research Project (R01)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZAA1-AA (06))
Program Officer
Lowman, Cherry
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University of New Mexico
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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Slesnick, Natasha; Prestopnik, Jillian L (2009) Comparison of family therapy outcome with alcohol-abusing, runaway adolescents. J Marital Fam Ther 35:255-77
Slesnick, Natasha; Bartle-Haring, Suzanne; Glebova, Tatiana et al. (2006) Primary alcohol versus primary drug use among adolescents: an examination of differences. Addict Behav 31:2080-93
Slesnick, Natasha; Bartle-Haring, Suzanne; Gangamma, Rashmi (2006) Predictors of substance use and family therapy outcome among physically and sexually abused runaway adolescents. J Marital Fam Ther 32:261-81
Slesnick, Natasha; Prestopnik, Jillian (2005) Dual and multiple diagnosis among substance using runaway youth. Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse 31:179-201
Slesnick, Natasha; Prestopnik, Jillian L (2004) Perceptions of the Family Environment and Youth Behaviors: Alcohol-Abusing Runaway Adolescents and Their Primary Caretakers. Fam J Alex Va 12:243-253
Slesnick, Natasha; Tonigan, J Scott (2004) Assessment of Alcohol and Other Drug Use by Runaway Youths: A Test-Retest Study of the Form 90. Alcohol Treat Q 22:21-34
Slesnick, Natasha; Prestopnik, Jillian L (2004) Office versus Home-Based Family Therapy for Runaway, Alcohol Abusing Adolescents: Examination of Factors Associated with Treatment Attendance. Alcohol Treat Q 22:3-19
Slesnick, Natasha; Vasquez, Christina; Bittinger, Joyce (2002) Family Functioning, Substance Use and Related Problem Behaviors: Hispanic vs. Anglo Runaway Youths. J Ethn Subst Abuse 1:83-101
Meade, Melissa A; Slesnick, Natasha (2002) Ethical considerations for research and treatment with runaway and homeless adolescents. J Psychol 136:449-63
Slesnick, N; Meade, M (2001) System youth: a subgroup of substance-abusing homeless adolescents. J Subst Abuse 13:367-84

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