Center for Adolescent Substance Abuse Research (CASAR)

The Center for Adolescent Substance Abuse is dedicated to conducting research that will help adolescents, young adults, and their families address their alcohol and other drug use, problem gambling, and other addictions or harmful behaviors. Aim to reduce the harmful effects of these behaviors and promote a healthy way of life.

Learn more about our current and past studies below:

Evaluation of SBIRT for Adolescents in School and Pediatric Health Settings

Evaluation of SBIRT for Adolescents in School and Pediatric Health Settings

MPower program

This 3-year randomized controlled study will evaluate the efficacy of a teenage-adapted SBIRT model (Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral for Treatment or services). This study focuses on a population of adolescents ages 14-19 who experience mild-to-moderate drug abuse and/or mild-to-moderate mental health problems. This study is funded by the Conrad N. Hilton foundation and is being conducted in collaboration with a pediatric health provider in California (Kaiser-Permanente). Each site will compare 100 youth/parent dyads receiving a 4-session SBIRT and 100 dyads receiving a 1-session education-focused comparison condition.

Adolescents will go through a two-stage screening process (clinical screen and self-report on the PESQ+). If the teen indicates either i) a mild-moderate drug abuse (not meeting criteria for a substance dependence disorder), ii) a mental health problem that commonly co-exists with drug abuse, or iii) both, he or she will be invited to participate in the active SBIRT or educational program, delivered by trained staff and guided by detailed manuals. All sessions will be 60 minutes. For SBIRT, the 4 sessions will involve a combination of youth and parent sessions. Sessions will be separated by approximately 1 week. The educational condition will consist of a single, 1-hour adolescent-only session focused on health promotion. Assessments will occur at baseline, 3 months after baseline, and at 6 months after baseline.

Call 612-273-9722 for more information about this program.

Parents as Interventionists for Moderate Drug Abusing Adolescents

Parents as Interventionists for Moderate Drug Abusing Adolescents

Study Complete: Home-Based Brief Intervention

This study will develop and test a new, innovative version of a brief intervention (BI) for parents with a teenager aged 12-17 who has already started to use drugs. The BI will be home-based rather than implemented by a counselor in a clinical setting. Stage I (2011) activities will involve the development of the parent training manual and the BI "home" program manual, and a small feasibility study; Stage II (2012-2014) work involves a formal controlled research study.

Study procedures:

Questionnaires and interviews will be administered at baseline and at 3-, 6- and 12-months post-baseline. We hypothesize that the home-based intervention will be beneficial in reducing adolescent substance use and improving parenting skills.
We will examine mediators that may contribute to post-intervention drug use outcomes among adolescents. We expect response to the intervention by the adolescent to be mediated by motivation, cognitions, problem solving, peer drug use, parenting skills and parent self-efficacy.

Recruitment has ended for this project. We are currently analyzing the data and will post the results here in December 2015/January 2016.

Educational Outcomes Study

Educational Outcomes Study

Effectiveness of Recovery High Schools as Continuing Care

This project will examine the efficacy of Recovery High Schools on improving academic outcomes for adolescents with drug abuse problems (2011-2015). The study will be conducted in cooperation with multiple drug abuse treatment facilities and Recovery High Schools in the greater Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Minnesota area. The purpose of this study is to find ways to enhance school environments in order to provide a healthy and supportive learning environment for students. We hope to learn more about how high schools and other factors impact a young person who recently attended a drug treatment program.

Study procedures:

Approximately 914 adolescents will be recruited from a drug abuse treatment facility or a Recovery High School and followed up through 12 months after they have left treatment.
Data will be used to assess whether students attending Recovery High Schools exhibit better academic and drug use outcomes after drug treatment than those attending non-Recovery High Schools.

Recruitment has ended. Follow-up only.

students sitting on the grass

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Research Team

Principal Investigator:
John Grabowski, PhD

Sheila Specker, MD

Session Coaches:
Andria Botzet, MA
Robyn Birkeland, PhD

Christine Dittel, BS