Preventing Misuse & Abuse of Alcohol, Tobacco, Prescribed Medication, and Other Substances

Vision: Communities that support parents who then alert their teenagers to the risks of early alcohol, tobacco, and drug use and who take action to find treatment for affected youth
Mission: Build community resources that support families in protecting their youth from substance abuse


Misuse and abuse of substances by youth, adults, and seniors in America are involved significantly in school and work failure, family dysfunction, illegal behavior, and poor health. If substance use problems were eradicated, more students would graduate from high school, fewer of them would be arrested for crimes, the performance of workers would rise, family violence decline, demands on law enforcement and courts would plunge, and health care costs reduced. Yet, substance use and abuse are social problems and ultimately can only be eliminated through social action at the local, community level. In the absence of demonstrated effectiveness, many communities are reluctant to invest in prevention programs. CHI-Research and Evaluation has wide experience with combining local, promising prevention with newly investigated concepts and programs. It can support blending these creatively and then monitoring and assessing benefits to at-risk individuals and to neighborhoods or whole communities.

CHI offers research and evaluation strategies designed specifically for application to this topic:

Substance Use Prevention Programs that Work

Problem: While most teenagers only experiment occasionally with substances, some are more vulnerable to addiction, start use, and then become dependent. Why some teens only experiment and others become addicted is unknown.

Challenge: Bring effective prevention programs to communities and to schools and measure their benefits for youth.

Promise: Research and program evaluation are valuable tools in helping communities and schools adopt prevention best practices and measure the success of their efforts to reduce substance risk to teens.

Juvenile Justice System Diversion Programs

Problem: In cities and towns of all sizes, there are adolescents whose substance use, or other misconduct often associated with substance use, has brought them into trouble with authorities. Many communities have built “diversion programs” to keep youngsters out of the adult court system. Yet, the efficacy of these efforts is widely unknown.

Challenge: Find the funding, staffing, and programs that will effectively divert youth away from illegal behavior.

Promise: Research and evaluation have succeeded in determining which youth in trouble with the law are likely to benefit from basic diversion and which will need intensive intervention. These lessons can inform community diversion programs so that they can assure parents, probation officers, and funders that they are meeting the needs of affected youth.

Outpatient Treatment Effectiveness for Youth with Substance Abuse Disorders

Problem: If youth substance use has become so serious that it is affecting family, school, peers, and their compliance with rules and laws, outpatient treatment is essential. Experience has shown, however, that most youth entering outpatient care have multiple factors contributing to their abuse of substances, making straightforward counseling less than effective.

Challenge: Design individual assessment methods that inform counseling of youths’ personality, mental health issues, and treatment responsiveness that will prepare outpatient care with an optimum intervention.

Promise: Research-evaluation in outpatient settings assists staff with evidence-based treatment guidelines that will meet the needs of individual teens.

Treatment Effectiveness for Youth with Advanced Substance Abuse Disorders

Problem: For some youth, community programs to treat substance use are insufficient. Inpatient care is effective, but expensive and tested methods for sustaining benefits after discharge are undeveloped in many communities and by many inpatient programs.

Challenge: Create from client histories templates that both identify youth who need the most intensive treatment and that guide aftercare following discharge.

Promise: Research-evaluation has created admission and discharge assessment that show staff the degree of treatment that will best support recovery.