Brief Intervention Impact on Truant Youths’ Marijuana Use: Eighteen-Month Follow-Up

Richard Dembo, Rhissa Briones-Robinson, James Schmeidler, Jennifer Wareham, Rocío Ungaro, Ken C. Winters, Lora Karas, Werner Wothke, Steven Belenko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


School truancy among teenagers remains a serious national problem, as evidenced by its significant association with school performance, psychological, and behavioral problems. Truancy is also positively associated with substance abuse. This study presents 18-month outcome data from a National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)-funded controlled trial that examined the efficacy of a brief intervention (BI) to reduce marijuana use among truant youths. Adolescents and their parents were randomly assigned to receive either a two-session youth-only session (BI-Y), two-session youth and additional parent session (BI-YP), or standard truancy services (STS). Analyses of an auto-regressive lag model examined marijuana use at three months, six months, 12 m onths, and 18 m onths post-intervention. Results indicated adolescents receiving BI services, especially BI-Y services, showed significant reductions in marijuana use, at 18-month follow-up. BI-YP youths showed a greater increase in marijuana use than BI-Y youths. Reasons for this unexpected finding are discussed. Implications of the results for future research and service delivery also are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)18-32
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Child and Adolescent Substance Abuse
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • marijuana use
  • risk behaviors
  • truancy
  • youth drug use brief intervention


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