Most Arrested Teens Get No Drug, Alcohol Treatment


Nearly four in five young people arrested for juvenile crimes are involved with alcohol or drugs, and few are getting treatment. The Associated Press says a five-year study by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University concluded that of the 1.9 million arrests of young offenders with substance abuse and addiction problems, only about 68,600 got some form of substance abuse treatment. The study of mostly 10- to 17-year-olds found that mental health services are scarce and most education programs for young people in the system fail to meet state standards. Instead of helping, we are writing off these young Americans,” said center chairman Joseph Califano Jr. “We are releasing them without attending to their needs for substance abuse treatment and other services, punishing them without providing help to get back on track.”

Among findings in the study, which can be seen at

At least 30 percent of adults in prison for felony crimes were incarcerated as juveniles; 50 to 80 percent of incarcerated juveniles suffer from learning disabilities; 50 to 75 percent of all incarcerated juveniles have a mental health disorder. The study urged a greater emphasis on assessing juveniles’ needs and offering substance abuse treatment and other services. Mark Soler, head of the Youth Law Center, an advocacy group in Washington, D.C., said that most arrested youths “can be safely placed in responsible community programs where they can get treatment. But when they’re locked up behind bars they rarely get that kind of treatment.”


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