Drug Treatment Courts Offer Hope for Youth

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SAMHSA News ~ The young Californians served by the Monterey County Health Department's Hope for Youth/Esperanza para los Jóvenes face incredible challenges. Primarily Latino, they live in neighborhoods plagued by gangs, violence, criminal behavior, and easy access to alcohol, marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine, and other drugs.

After receiving a three-year Juvenile Treatment Drug Court grant from SAMHSA's Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) in 2010, the county has been trying to achieve better outcomes for these youth by getting young offenders involved in a juvenile treatment drug court as an alternative to incarceration. Designed to break the cycle of alcohol and drug use, criminal behavior, and incarceration, the project includes alcohol and drug treatment, regular meetings with the judge, and drug testing.

The approach seems to be working. "The trends are moving in the right direction," said project director Theresa Innis-Scimone, M.F.T., of the county's Behavioral Health Bureau. "Fewer young people are relapsing, re-offending, or moving on to a higher level of care," she said. "Plus, more are staying in school and in their communities." Continue reading here.

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