Predictors of engagement in adolescent drug abuse treatment

Gayle A. Dakof, Manulel Tejeda, Howard A. Liddle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

99 Scopus citations


Objectives: To identify key demographic, parent, and adolescent characteristics that influence engagement in outpatient drug abuse treatment. Method: Youths aged 12 to 17 years (N = 224; 81% male and 72% African American) referred for drug treatment and their parents participated in this study. Marijuana was the primary substance of abuse. Data were gathered prior to treatment on demographic variables as well as on both parent and youth perspectives on youth, parent, and family functioning. Results: A discriminant function analysis revealed that engagement in treatment was related to, in order of weighting, more positive parental expectations for their adolescent's educational achievement (standardized discriminant function coefficient [SDF] = 0.68), higher parental reports of youth externalizing symptoms (SDF = 0.59), and higher levels of family conflict perceived by the youth (SDF = 0.36). Family income, gender, juvenile justice status, minority group status, family structure, parental age and psychopathology, and treatment characteristics did not distinguish treatment-engaged from unengaged adolescents. Conclusions: The results suggest that both parent and youth perceptions are pivotal to whether or not adolescents are engaged in psychotherapy. These findings lead the authors to rec recommend adolescent engagement interventions focusing on both the youth and his or her parents and suggest a content focus for adolescent engagement interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)274-281
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2001


  • Adolescence
  • Dropout
  • Drug abuse
  • Treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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