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Adolescent Treatment Research 2004

Drug and Alcohol Addiction Treatment Research

Adolescent Treatment Research 2004While it's obvious to most that drug and alcohol consumption in the adolescent age group has continued to escalate most are oblivious to why. The availability of treatment programs, interventionists, drug counselors and prevention programs far exceeds what it was even 20 years ago. So this situation begs the question, with all of these proposed "solutions" in place, why are children continuing to experiment and abuse substances?

The answer is simple: current programs and methodologies do not work.

To start, a program most of us are familiar with, D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) does not yield the results many of us would believe. The D.A.R.E. program began in 1983 in Los Angeles by Police Chief Daryl Gates. Over the years all fifty states have adopted the program as well as 13 foreign countries. The leaders of the D.A.R.E. program have joined hands with the leaders of an equally unsuccessful "War on Drugs" to promote the program as a prevention program that works. The truth is D.A.R.E. does nothing to prevent kids from doing drugs. The most exhaustive study on the effectiveness of D.A.R.E. was done by the Research Triangle Institute, North Carolina, at the request of the U.S. Department of Justice; it was titled "Past and Future Directions of the D.A.R.E. Program, September, 1994." The reported concluded that: "The D.A.R.E. program's limited effect on adolescent drug use contrasts with the program's popularity and prevalence. An important implication is that D.A.R.E. could be taking the place of other, more beneficial drug education programs that kids could be receiving."

Another noteworthy article on D.A.R.E. is "Truth and D.A.R.E.: Tracking Drug Education to Graduation and as Symbolic Politics," by E. Wysong and R. Aniskiewicz (Indiana University), D. Wright (Wichita State University), Social Problems Vol. 41 No. 3, August, 1994. In the article the authors note that the D.A.R.E. program may actually increase children's curiosity about drugs. In support of this idea a current guest of the Jude Thaddeus Academy admitted that an officer's description of a marijuana high actually made him want to try it and subsequently did, at 11 years old.

The authors of the aforementioned study demonstrate that in a five year study the D.A.R.E. program demonstrated "no long-term effects for the program in preventing or reducing adolescent drug use." D.A.R.E. vs. no D.A.R.E. also showed that students exposed to the program had less respect for police officers and demonstrated an unwillingness to condemn peer drug use. This is just one program. Treatment for adolescent drug use is commonly regarded as a solution when the fact dictates a much different result. And, like D.A.R.E., the truth about the programs provided is shrouded in agenda. The "War on Drugs" has cost the United States tens of billions of dollars, the treatment industry, tens of billions of dollars and prevention programs, billions.

The Baldwin Research Institute has been conducting studies on drug and alcohol abuse treatment since 1989. The Institute is a not-for-profit New York State corporation that conducts research and develops programs for recovery from alcohol and other drug problems. The Jude Thaddeus Program, developed during the last twelve years, is unique; it should not be confused with conventional treatment programs. "Conventional treatment" methods are methodologies that include a psychological, medical, and 12 Step indoctrination also referred to as the bio-psychosocial model or Minnesota Methodology. The success rate of these program hover between 2% to 20% for adults depending on the study and for adolescents in these same programs the "success" rate falls to 0%.

Remarkably, The Baldwin Research Project of 1990 produced significantly better results than conventional treatment at the end of the fifth year. Please consider the following.

ANALYSIS OF RELAPSE FOLLOWING THE BALDWIN PROGRAM OF RECOVERY FROM ALCOHOLISM AND OTHER DRUG ADDICTIONS.

The Baldwin Program has shown a 70% success rate at 6 months following participation in the program, where conventional treatment has yielded only an 18% success rate at 6 months following treatment. And, at 5 years following treatment, conventional treatment yields an average success rate of 10%, while the Baldwin Program observed a "worst case" success rate for that same period of 60%. Thus, the Baldwin Program is at least 6 times more successful helping persons with drug and alcohol problems than is conventional treatment.

TABLE 1

* NOTE: Consolidated results for the first three years of operation.

Simply stated, the Baldwin Program provides a solution that produces substantially better results with adolescents than conventional treatment programs. Additionally, the Baldwin Program is many times less expensive. The total cost for the nineteen adolescents to attend the Baldwin Program was approximately $30,000. Thirty-seven percent or 7 of the 19 are known to be sober and drug free today. Getting one adolescent sober by way of the Baldwin Program costs approximately $4,300; this contrasts so drastically with the previous estimate for conventional treatment that to describe the Baldwin Program as more cost effective seems grossly understated.

TABLE 2

Schools, courts, social services, government agencies, parents, counselors, physicians, and other professionals need to decide what their motives are with respect to referring adolescents to recovery programs. If their motives are to help the adolescent recover from a drug and/or alcohol problem, clearly a didactic education program based on the Jude Thaddeus Program text would be the preferred choice. Even without the Jude Thaddeus Academy, a program such as the aforementioned educational program is 20 times more successful at helping adolescents recover from alcohol and drug addiction than conventional treatment programs. Or, if the motivation for sending an adolescent to a drug and alcohol recovery program is to get rid of a problem, an educational program would still be preferred over conventional treatment programs based on cost.

Still the Baldwin Program is not the complete answer to helping adolescents out of drug and alcohol problems. Notably the adolescents in the Baldwin study fell into two groups: one group that was heavily involved with the activities at the Baldwin House (where the Baldwin Research Project was conducted) and a second group that was less involved. The group that was more involved did better than the group that was less involved. Early indications are that if an adolescent accepts a peer group whose members have stopped drinking and drugging, then that adolescent's chances of recovery are greatly improved.

Our experience has shown that although some adolescents stayed sober after the Baldwin Program, all of them struggled with school. In fact, most that stayed sober left school. The Baldwin Institute remains in close contact with these youngsters and has learned a great deal from them. We learned what should have been obvious: with a teenager "image is everything." Teenagers cannot go back to school because their old friends are drug users and those who do not use drugs are, for lack of a better term, "not cool." Some teenagers returned to their old school and used drugs, some switched schools and used drugs again, and some did not return to school. All those who stayed sober went back to school for a short time and found that they could not handle the environment that they were in. These teenagers all eventually left school never to return.

From 1994 to 1999 the number of adolescents who have experienced the recovery path first used in the Baldwin Research Project had more than doubled. Nineteen adolescents had completed the Baldwin Program at The Hagaman Guest House. The results are:

TABLE 3

Schools, courts, social services, government agencies, parents, counselors, physicians, and other professionals need to decide what their motives are with respect to referring adolescents to treatment programs. If their motives are to help the adolescent recover from a drug and/or alcohol problem, clearly the Jude Thaddeus Program would be the proper choice. Even without the Jude Thaddeus Academy, the Jude Thaddeus Program is many times more successful at helping adolescents recover from alcohol and drug addiction than conventional treatment programs. Or, if the motivation for sending an adolescent to a drug and alcohol recovery program is to get rid of a problem, the Jude Thaddeus Program would still be preferred over conventional treatment programs based on cost.

Still the Baldwin Program was not the complete answer to helping adolescents out of drug and alcohol problems. Notably the adolescents in the Baldwin study fell into two groups: one group that was heavily involved with the activities at the Baldwin House (where the Baldwin Research Project was conducted) and a second group that was less involved. The group that was more involved did better than the group that was less involved. Preliminary indications are that if an adolescent accepts a peer group whose members have stopped drinking and drugging, then that adolescent's chances of recovery are greatly improved.

TABLE 4

The preceding tables suggest a strong correlation between peer group and success rate, not only from an alcohol and drug recovery point of view, but scholastically as well. Those that established a peer group with others who were motivated to not drink and not use drugs were twice as successful in all categories as were those who tried to return to their drinking and drugging peer groups.

The Baldwin Program could not claim a significant success with a 72% chance of recovery for the total population but at the same time teenagers in that group had no better than a 50% chance of recovery which was largely contingent upon their dropping out of high school. The Baldwin Academy, JTA, was started to study a real solution for the adolescent drinking and drugging problem.

The Jude Thaddeus Academy was implemented to help young graduates of the Jude Thaddeus Programs who need more help then what the employed programs currently offer. The purpose of the program was/is to help individuals adjust to real world situations in an effort to promote long-term sobriety and success. The program managers teach basic etiquette, relationship skills, living skills and work skills as well as help guest's reconcile legal problems and accomplish education goals.

At the time, there were no schools that offered youngsters a drug and alcohol free environment. There were, and are today, such things as drug free school zones, but that does not mean the youngsters at those schools do not use drugs. Designated drug free areas around schools where implemented to provide more severe punishment for students possessing drugs within the designated zone than they would be subjected to if they possessed the same amount and drug outside the zone. Such punitive programs have done nothing to elevate or even lessen drug use in and around schools. In contrast JTA was a drug and alcohol free school. Further, JTA was designed as a high school for youngsters who were afflicted with drug and alcohol addictions, a physical, mental, and emotional malady that handicaps them. These youngsters need a special school much like others who are handicapped and need special facilities.

At the JTA the students went through a screening process to make sure that they wanted to stop using drugs. Upon acceptance to JTA, candidates then went through the six-week Baldwin Educational Program, which had already proven its effectiveness. Only after these two requirements were met were the adolescents allowed to enter JTA. They knew that this school consisted of a group of teenagers who all wanted to be sober. They knew that they would not be around those who wanted them to return to drugs. And, more importantly, they were all helping one another to stay sober for life. Thus, the social norm then changed from using drugs to not wanting to use drugs. The student's energies were switched from trying to be cool to wanting to learn.

A curriculum was needed for these youngsters once the decision was made to establish the prototype school. This was no easy matter, because any proposed curriculum must deal with the monumental task of turning these "problem adolescents" into problem solvers. These teenagers are independent, and for that reason rebel against education and school. But, we found that if they were encouraged to learn through independent study, they were eager to study and educate themselves. It is a very old and simple idea that a person will be happy learning and working on something in which he or she has an interest. Henry David Thoreau observed, "If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours." The goal was not to have the teachers educate the students; rather it was the goal to have the teachers help the students realize their dreams.

As a result JTA used an open curriculum. The students were encouraged to read and write, but were not told what to read and write. We wanted to trigger the lust for knowledge that had been long buried in these students. The students read what they pick out of the library. Then they wrote about what they read and explained it to the rest of the class. The class then had an open discussion about what they had learned from each student's analysis. Rather than an open curriculum, we prefer to say that our curriculum encompassed all subjects. For example, one student wanted to pursue acting, so she was encouraged to join an acting club. Another wanted to learn about automobiles; he was encouraged to work on the school car with a friend. All students were encouraged to play sports and exercise as well as to join us on our biweekly mountain hikes. Mathematics and sciences were presented in the same fashion. Those students who wanted to learn more than the basic life skills were encouraged to do so. Each student was required to pursue something that sincerely interested him or her.

The English and History program was modeled after the reciprocal arrangement that Salinger talks about in Catcher in the Rye. Salinger wrote, "Many, many men have been just as troubled morally and spiritually as you are right now. Happily, some of them kept records of their troubles. You'll learn from them - if you want to. Just as some day, if you have something to offer, someone will learn something from you. It's a beautiful reciprocal arrangement."

The English and History section was mandatory for all students, since the ability to read and understand history is essential in life. This reciprocal arrangement is more than memorization; it is the full understanding of history and poetry. It is the love of knowledge that is the force that drives students to learn, not the grades they receive. For that reason and others, students did not receive grades. Another reason that grades were not recommended was that these special students are already too competitive. Competitiveness and fear of failure are parts of the personality of the addict. If students were graded it would only foster fearful competitive behavior. We were trying to establish a brotherhood among the students. Cooperation rather than competition was the motto. An overall theme of the school was love and service to others. With this curriculum in place, the next problem was how to group the students.

Frank Brown, the author of The Non-graded High School and at one time a member of the President's Panel on Research and Education, summed up his thoughts on the class or graded school by saying, "Nothing is so unequal as the equal treatment of unequals." Brown's point is well taken; it is wrong to group people together in the same grade because of their age. In his book he offers the non-graded school as "a place which makes arrangements for the individual student to pursue any course in which he is interested, and has the ability to achieve, without regard either to grade level or sequence." The grade-less school is not an esoteric organization. It is easily implemented and allows education to become the self-discovery it should be.

After learning the basics in mathematics and reading we must allow these handicapped students to uncover their dreams and to discover what they can and can not do. These students, more so than any others, need to learn for the sake of understanding, not for their parent's approval or for a grade, but because they want to. Although this school is somewhat unconventional, we observed that these students enjoyed school. In the past they would have dropped out of school and/or continued using drugs. Nothing was set in stone except our sincere desire to help our students.

The school was located in the same building as the Hagaman Guest House, where the Baldwin Program is offered. The house affords the school the use of two large adjoining rooms for classrooms. One room was a lounge with couches and was used for reading. It also had a large conference table which was used for group discussion and teaching. The other room had the students' desks and computers. This room was used by the students to do their independent assignments. The students lived at the guest house. Besides school and The Fellowship meetings, the students were responsible for two hours of work around the guest house each day which included cleaning the house, cooking meals, doing dishes, and general repair work like plumbing and electrical work. These chores promoted responsibility, work ethic, and some useful skills.

The pilot project for the school was started on November 28, 1994. One of the program youngsters, a 14 year old, was attending the local public school while living at the Hagaman Guest House and was coming home in tears everyday (MS-36). Another was already on home schooling at the guest house (JP-70). A volunteer of the Baldwin Research Institute was sponsoring a 15-year-old in Alcoholics Anonymous. This 15-year-old had spent 10 months in a therapeutic community then returned home and public school (J). Although he was sober, he was getting in trouble at school and was preparing to drop out. The fourth student, a 15 year old, was attending public school and exhibiting severe behavioral problems. She was spending time with older guys and would frequently leave home for two or three days at a time (EB-62).

MS-36 remained sober and drug free for the one year he attended JTA. His work at JTA was so impressive that he was admitted to college at age 16. At college he gravitated to a drinking and drugging social group and within a short time he began drinking and using drugs. Interestingly, at 17 and again at 18, he attempted to get sober and off drugs. His most recent attempt at 18 years old is going well, and he is sober and drug free at this writing (10-Oct-99). JP-70 was sober and drug free for the entire year at JTA. JP-70 returned home-got a job and remained sober and drug free for two years, which is the last information we have received. But at the same time that we heard of his sobriety, we also heard that he was involved in piercing several parts of his body and collecting tattoos. His current status is unknown. J was sober and drug free for the entire year at JTA. J returned home, but did not go back to school. We received information in June 1998 that J had been continuously sober and drug free up to that time. According to the instructor that interviewed him he was happy and doing well. His current status is unknown. EB-62 was sober and drug free for the entire year at JTA. Upon returning home she immediately returned to her social group and began drinking and drugging. She picked up her old behavior right where she had left off the previous year. Two years later she separated from that group of friends-cleaned herself up and made arrangements to enter college. Today she is in college and doing well. She reports drinking socially and with none of the attendant problems of abusive drinking.

Our results (2 out of 4 stayed sober and drug free for more than two years) were certainly better than conventional treatment during the post program period. Moreover, the results during their attendance at JTA were excellent. None of the four drank or used drugs while in a peer group school that was alcohol and drug free. With that said, we are certainly not promoting the JTA Project as conclusive of anything. The sample size is small and the period of time the students attended JTA was too short. However, we do believe, even with the small sample size and the short duration of the project that the project has demonstrated a potential method where adolescents can recover from alcohol and other drug problems.

Even with the limited results present here, this type of program should be made available in every school district throughout the country if adolescents are going to be afforded an opportunity to recover from drug and alcohol problems. Mini-schools within each district with no more than thirty students per facility may be optimum, but much more research is needed in this area. Each facility should be in a non-institution setting with kitchen facilities and home-style living rooms. And, like the program has been designed today, the living quarters of the participants are free from drug and alcohol use. Program facilitators are substance abuse free as well.

Even without additional research, the reason this approach should be implemented immediately is that current programs are of no value at all. This is clearly a case where it is better to do something than to do nothing. Trying anything different from the programs that are offered to adolescents today at least gives them a chance to recover.

Nonetheless, the chances of a program such as JTA being implemented into a public school system anytime soon are not likely. Billions of dollars each year are spent on programs like D.A.R.E. and the war-on-drugs and have produced no measurable results. Continuing to pour money into these programs is a public "feel-good" policy, but does nothing to help adolescents out of the drug and alcohol culture.

Copyright 2004 Baldwin Research Institute, Inc.

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