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The Moderating Relationship of Comorbid Psychopathology and Treatment Outcome for Young Adult Offenders in Drug Court

Title: The moderating relationship of comorbid psychopathology and treatment outcome for young adult offenders in drug court.

Background: The drug court system is an alternative to incarceration that provides offenders with non-violent, substance motivated crimes with an opportunity to dismiss their charges and undergo a rigorous substance abuse treatment program. It is unknown whether drug court is effective for young adult clients and the role of co-occurring psychopathology within this context.

Methods: This study evaluated the overall effectiveness of a drug court system applied to young adult offenders ages 18-26, and additionally explored the moderating relationship of psychiatric symptoms on treatment outcome. Seventy-four clients were assessed at baseline and at 6-month follow-up.

Findings: Participants reported reductions in substance use (M=35.51, SD=29.92; M=7.79, SD=17.83; t(71)=7.00, p<0.001) and mental health symptoms (M=48.26, SD=36.49; M=36.40, SD=37.99; t(71)=2.05, p<0.05) at follow-up. Additionally, moderators of outcome were found based on internalizing and externalizing mental health symptoms.

Conclusions: Drug court may be an effective alternative to incarceration for young adults and may benefit higher severity clients in particular.


Patrick T. McGonigal, Kathleen A. Moore, Matthew Scott Young

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