The Unit for Social Welfare Research at the Norwegian Knowledge Centre in the Norwegian Institute of Public Health was commissioned by the Norwegian Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs to conduct a systematic literature search with a subsequent categorisation of relevant research. The commission was to identify scientific evidence about the effect of substance abuse interventions for youth aged 3-23 years old, who have a drug use disorder or co-occurring drug use disorder and mental problem/mental illness, and who are linked to child welfare services or mental health services.
In September 2016, a librarian carried out the literature search in 13 social and medical scientific databases from 2000 to September 2016. Two researchers screened all identified references to assess inclusion according to pre-defined criteria. We extracted some descriptive data from the included systematic reviews and randomised controlled studies.
We included 22 studies (one systematic review, 12 randomized controlled studies, nine controlled before-and-after studies). The results were:
The most common type of treatment involved various psychotherapeutic treatment approaches.
The systematic review evaluated the effect of residential treatment centers for substance-abusing adolescents, and concluded that it is uncertain if such centres are effective.
Among the randomised controlled studies, motivational interviewing, with or without cognitive behavioural therapy, was the most common type of treatment.
Use of alcohol and other drugs was measured in the systematic review and all the randomised controlled studies, and many studies also assessed problems in connection with substance use as well as mental health.