News from the National Executive Director, August 2016

by Evan Elkin

In the current Reclaiming Futures newsletter we focus our attention on Screening Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT). SBIRT is a public health-oriented framework revolutionizing the way we think about behavioral health and substance use screening and prevention. Buoyed by strong evidence from the adult research literature, there has been a surge in national interest in translating the successes of the adult SBIRT model for youth populations.

The process of developing an SBIRT framework for youth is in its very early stages and the interest in the approach is currently outpacing the presence of either a body of research evidence and a set of best practices to guide the field. However, with a significant strategic investment by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation (CNHF), the field is making strides. Among other elements of a multi-pronged strategy, CNHF is supporting the field to develop and pilot innovative approaches to youth SBIRT, to look at workforce training, and to explore appropriate settings for implementation. The result has been to challenge a number of youth-serving systems like schools and juvenile justice systems to view their work with youth through a public health lens.… Read More »

Year 2 Update! Reclaiming Futures’ Version of Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT)

by Bridget Murphy

As many of you know, Reclaiming Futures was awarded a Conrad N. Hilton Foundation grant in September 2014. The purpose of this grant is to develop, pilot test, evaluate, and disseminate a new version of SBIRT for youth at risk for deeper involvement with the juvenile justice system. As a first step, Reclaiming Futures issued a request for proposals and awarded five sites to help us in the endeavor. The sites selected, through a competitive process, were:… Read More »

“Read All About It” – Research Findings Published!

by Bridget Murphy

Reasons why I am proud to write this blog…

Reason 1: My former colleagues (and friends) at The University of Arizona, Southwest Institute for Research on Women (UA SIROW) (UA SIROW) have been leading the efforts on the national evaluation of Juvenile Drug Courts and Juvenile Drug Courts blended with Reclaiming Futures (JDC/RF).  UA SIROW collaborated with Chestnut Health Systems and Carnevale Associates, LLC to implement a comprehensive evaluation that included data from Juvenile Drug Courts, Juvenile Drugs Courts blended with Reclaiming Futures, and non-justice related intensive adolescent outpatient programs. The purpose was to examine processes, outcomes, and costs.

Reason 2: A collection of five research reports and two commentaries are published in a guest issue of the Drug Court Review – a project of the National Drug Court Institute.… Read More »

News from the National Executive Director, June 2016

by Evan Elkin

It is widely known that arrest rates for adolescents have steadily declined over the past two decades. During this time, we’ve also seen a gradual shift in the nation’s juvenile justice practices away from the use of out-of-home placement for minor, non-violent offenses and toward more treatment-oriented, trauma-sensitive and community-based responses.

This, unfortunately, has not been the story for girls involved in the juvenile justice system. In fact, the proportion of girls involved at all stages of the juvenile justice continuum increased over this time period. Experts and policymakers agree that the system remains insensitive and ill-equipped to serve the needs of girls – particularly girls of color – at all levels of juvenile justice continuum.… Read More »

Adolescent Girls in the Spotlight

by Bridget Murphy

In 2008 my colleagues and I wrote for and were awarded a recovery-oriented systems of care grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The primary goal of this grant was to develop and implement a trauma-informed and recovery-oriented system of care for adolescent girls. My colleagues and I were concerned about the increasing juvenile justice involvement and substance use rates among adolescent girls with little to no increases in their rates of enrollment in treatment. Our previous research highlighted the significant levels of trauma and other co-occurring mental health problems among girls. In addition, we found girls had higher PAGE3_NEWCOLORrates of “harder” drug use such as cocaine, amphetamines, and heroin/opiates as compared to boys. And on the positive side, we also found that girls who accessed treatment responded really well and made significant behavioral improvements over time.

Other juvenile justice and behavioral health policy makers and program developers have recognized the importance of responding to these increased rates of behavioral health and substance use problems among adolescent girls. We now have a better understanding that while males and females are equally vulnerable to addiction, that from a physiological standpoint, females can have lower tolerance and may progressive to physical dependence at different rates.  We also have a better understanding of the critical role played by trauma in substance use and addiction as well as a broader range of available approaches for providing gender-specific and trauma-informed treatment. The positive news is that we have seen the rates of illicit substance use significantly decrease for girls from 2008 to 2014 (26.5% versus 23.7%) and decreases in comparison to boys.… Read More »

Talking About Addiction

by Kate Knappett

On June 1, 2016, our Reclaiming Futures national executive director Evan Elkin spoke at Red Emma’s in Baltimore for Open Society Institute-Baltimore’s second event in their “Talking About Addiction” series. Elkin was accompanied on the panel by Dr. Hoover Adger from Johns Hopkins Children’s Center and by Carin Callan Miller, who founded Save Our Children Peer Family Support. The conversation was moderated by Scott Nolen, director of OSI-Baltimore’s Drug Addiction Treatment Program. A full room of community members joined them for the evening, including families affected by adolescent addiction.

Youth, Addiction and the Juvenile Justice System

Whereas the first “Talking About Addiction” event explored alternative law enforcement approaches to addiction, this event focused on youth, addiction, and the juvenile justice system. Despite public acknowledgment of the failures of the “War on Drugs,” and an increased understanding of addiction as a public health issue rather than a criminal justice issue, OSI-Baltimore recognizes that research and policy around adolescent addiction are slow to reach the mainstream. Indeed, during the discussion, some attendees expressed frustration with how long addiction treatment reform is taking; OSI moderator Nolen suggested reassurance that the addiction paradigm is finally shifting.… Read More »

Youth Justice News Roundup

by Kate Knappett

We round up the latest news on youth justice reform and national public health.

Read More »

News from the National Executive Director, May 2016

by Evan Elkin

America is facing a heroin and opiate crisis. Heroin is increasingly popular – a report by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration indicates that first-time heroin users doubled between 2006 and 2013 and data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse opiates imageindicate that deadly heroin overdoses increased sixfold in the years between 2001 and 2014. More than ever before, this crisis is addressed as a public health issue more than a public safety or criminal justice issue. This shift has sparked much public debate about why this is the case. Have we finally reached a tipping point as a society in our views of addiction as a health concern? Have irresponsible pain management prescription practices contributed to opening our eyes to one of the epidemic’s root causes? Some argue that race is a critical part of the story and feel that the shifting demographic – with an apparent increase in the proportion of white heroin and opiate users – is what has changed the perception of heroin abuse and finally mobilized policy makers. In this month’s Reclaiming Futures newsletter, we focused our attention on the issues surrounding the opiate crisis and featured a new blog post by Reclaiming Futures Program and Policy Analyst Bridget Murphy.… Read More »

Opiates: A National Discussion

by Bridget Murphy

On March 29, 2016 President Barack Obama communicated support for addressing the opiate and heroin crisis in the United States. Joined by physicians and individuals in recovery on a panel at the National Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit in Atlanta, GA, President Obama announced several private and public sector supports including access to treatment, medical coverage and physician training, enforcement to combat distribution, and a number of other services. At the same time, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services finalized “a rule to strengthen access to mental health and substance use disorder treatment.

These services and supports are specific to opiates and heroin and thisPAGE 2-COUNSELOR is good news for the juvenile justice and substance use disorders fields. Why….? Let me explain.

Although the majority of adolescents present to treatment for alcohol or cannabis problems and disorders, intervening early may prevent the onset of heroin and non-prescription use of pain relievers. Adolescent use of opiates has not significantly changed in recent years; however, for transitional aged youth it has. According to the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that as compared to the 2009 rates, past year heroin use among 18 to 25 year olds has significantly increased (0.5 vs. 0.8). Additionally, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported a 14% increase in opioid overdoses in one year. Providing the necessary services and supports to adolescents and their families involved with the juvenile justice system, including education of heroin and opiate addiction, has the potential to change these significant increases in use and deaths.… Read More »

News from the National Executive Director, April 2016

by Evan Elkin

We’re very excited to announce the launch of Reclaiming Futures Data Briefs, a new series of brief reports developed in partnership with the John Jay College of Criminal Justice’s Research and Evaluation Center and the Center’s Director, Dr. Jeffrey Butts. The series will highlight current data trends at the intersection of the fields of criminal and juvenile justice, law enforcement and the epidemiology of behavioral health and substance use. The reports are intended for a wide range of youth justice and treatment stakeholders including practitioners, policymakers, advocates, researchers and juvenile justice professionals. The reports are designed to be clear and concise and to provide useful information that will help readers to put our efforts to reform the juvenile justice systems and improve outcomes for youth in a broader, more data-driven context. Dr. Jeffrey Butts from John Jay College says: “I’m pleased to be a part of the new series of data briefs because the goal of Reclaiming Futures is to distribute data in focused and accessible ways.” The first Reclaiming Futures Data Brief examines trends in drug-related arrests within adolescent, young adult and adult populations across both the juvenile and adult justice systems. We hope you find this new series useful in your work.

Read the first Reclaiming Futures Data Brief here.Read More »