Local Researcher Awarded Federal Grant Focused on Reducing Substance Use and Preventing HIV for Youth in the Juvenile Justice System

September 21, 2009

Contact: Dana Smith, 541-485-2711

Eugene, OR – Dana K. Smith, Ph.D., a research scientist at the Oregon Social Learning Center, has been awarded a grant entitled “Preventing Drug Abuse & HIV/AIDS in Delinquent Youths: An Integrated Intervention” from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

The two-year award, totaling just over $1 million, will examine the impact of a new intervention program designed to reduce drug use and prevent HIV infection amongst boys involved in the Lane County juvenile justice system.

Past research has linked HIV risk behaviors, drug use, and delinquency for those in the juvenile justice system. Risk factors for the co-occurrence of these problems include poor parenting, family criminality, mental illness, association with delinquent peers, and child abuse.

Youth involved in the juvenile justice system who are using drugs and engaging in high risk sexual behaviors are at increased risk for a host of other problems, including AIDS, physical and mental health problems, incarceration and early death.

In the study, 80 boys between the ages of 14 and 18 who have had at least one criminal referral and documented drug use will be randomly assigned to either receive the intervention being examined or to receive services as usual.

The intervention will consist of social, communication and skill building for the youths and support and training for their parents. The youth and parent programs will run simultaneously for 6 months. Follow-up assessments a year after the beginning of the program will be used to test for significant differences in the two groups.

NIDA is a division of the National Institutes of Health of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIDA’s mission is to “lead the Nation in bringing the power of science to bear on drug abuse and addiction.” NIDA funds basic and intervention research, and supports research training, career development, public education, and research dissemination efforts.