Runaway shelters document high levels of substance abuse among runaway youth, at least double that of school youth and there is increasing public health concern for this group over the associated risk for AIDS. Runaway youth present a constellation of problems, and research suggests that this population may be unique in the range and intensity of associated problems. 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. Most studies to date have collected self-report data on the family and social history; virtually no research has examined treatment effectiveness with 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 behavioral family therapy in reducing substance abuse among adolescents, no study has systematically applied and evaluated a family-based intervention with runaways. The proposed study is a Stage 1 behavioral treatment development project designed to examine the effectiveness of a multi-systemic behavioral family-based intervention in reducing substance use and HIV risk behaviors, while increasing family and psychological functioning in a sample of runaway adolescents. The effectiveness of booster sessions in maintaining treatment gains will be examined, and an intensive engagement strategy will be employed.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
First Independent Research Support & Transition (FIRST) Awards (R29)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Human Development Research Subcommittee (NIDA)
Program Officer
Racioppo, Melissa M
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of New Mexico
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
Zip Code
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 (2005) Ecologically based family therapy outcome with substance abusing runaway adolescents. J Adolesc 28:277-98
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; 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
Slesnick, Natasha (2001) Variables Associated with Therapy Attendance in Runaway Substance Abusing Youth: Preliminary Findings. Am J Fam Ther 29:411-420
Slesnick, N; Meyers, R J; Meade, M et al. (2000) Bleak and hopeless no more. Engagement Of reluctant substance-abusing runaway youth and their families. J Subst Abuse Treat 19:215-22