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National Institute on Drug Abuse

Behavioral Therapies Development Program - Basic Research and Development

The Small Grant Program (R03)

Therapy Development for Female Adolescent Drug Abuse

Dakof, Gayle; University of Miami

This study meets the requirements of a small grant (R03) and is submitted under the Behavioral Therapies Development program. It is conceived as a Stage 1 treatment development study. It will take place within the scientific and organizational infrastructure of the Center for Research on Adolescent Drug Abuse, a NIDA-funded treatment evaluation research center. This study is seen as an integral part of the Center's mission to improve treatment of adolescent drug abuse by constructing new empirically developed interventions. The ultimate objective of the investigation is to increase the effectiveness of drug abuse treatment for adolescent women. It aims to identify clinically relevant concomitants of adolescent drug abuse in females and males, to identify critical factors of success and failure in the treatment of substance abuse in adolescent women, and to establish a foundation for the development of a gender-sensitive family therapy. Substance abusing adolescent women have been ignored by researchers and neglected by mental health service providers. The available data will be used to gain a more thorough understanding of the differences between male and female adolescent substance abusers, predicting that young women referred for treatment will evidence more severe family dysfunction and higher rates of depression than the males in our study. 180 adolescents, 90 females and 90 males, will participate in Study 1. A multiple regression and correlation data analytic strategy will be utilized to test the hypothesis that girls' drug use will be better predicted by withdrawal and poor family functioning, while acting out will best predict drug use by males. 30 adolescents, 15 females and 15 males, will participate in Study 2, which will employ a case analysis methodology to identify essential features of successfully treating drug abuse in adolescent women. Study 2 is an exploratory hypothesis generating study. This group seeks to lay a foundation for gender-sensitive interventions with adolescent substance abusers by analyzing the process of family therapy and identifying predictors of success for females as compared with boys. The results of the studies will not only increase the understanding of young female substance abusers, the "invisible" alcoholics and drug abusers, but will also establish avenues for future research designed to assist in developing effective strategies for treating these young people.

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