Teen Intervene

Intervention Basics

Teen intervene is an early intervention program which targets adolescents who display early signs of alcohol or drug problems, but are not yet at the stage of daily use or substance dependence.

Teen Intervene integrates the following techniques in order to eliminate their substance use:

  • Stages of Change Theory
  • Motivational Enhancement
  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy
Expectation of Sessions: 
There are 2 - 3 one-hour sessions. Sessions are administered in a school setting and specific goals are addressed in each session. The final session includes the family and addresses the need for the parent to demonstrate healthy attitudes and behaviors related to substance use.

Recommended Populations

  • Youth ages 13 - 17
  • Girls or Boys
  • Outpatient / School Setting
  • Urban or Suburban Setting 

Special Considerations for Juvenile Drug Courts

Because this treatment modality sits on a line between prevention and early intervention for youth with a low severity of substance use, it may not be appropriate for the youth JDCs are serving. It is recommended that JDCs target youth who have both moderate to high substance abuse treatment needs and moderate to high criminogenic risk. In some cases, youth participating in Teen Intervene may show signs of a more severe substance abuse problem than originally assessed, which may lead to enrollment in a JDC program, but courts and case managers are cautioned to place youth into the right program the first time, rather than relying on a “controlled failure” (i.e., the team should work through any screening and assessment challenges, if youth are continually showing more severe issues after intake and then being moved to a more intense treatment program or level of supervision).

Additionally, Teen Intervene, as tested and evaluated by NREPP, was provided in a school-based setting, typically with a school guidance counselor administering the protocol. 

Engagement Strategies

Teen Intervene may not need targeted engagement strategies when youth enroll in the program, given its length.  One strength of the program would be that the intervention can be targeted to teens without the stigma of “treatment” given its short duration and location of the treatment provided (i.e., school guidance counselor). Engaging the parents in this low-intensity setting (school grounds), for the final session, will likely be easier than gaining agreement to attend a session in a traditional treatment setting.

The JDC may want to take this opportunity to engage local school administrators regarding Teen Intervene. School counselors can easily be trained to provide this intervention; it is very prescriptive in nature, making the training fairly easy for school counselors with little time for additional duties. 

Implementation and Training

Visit Hazelden's website to research costs and training opportunities or contact Ken Winters, Ph.D. at winte001@umn.edu for more information.  


For more detailed information regarding research and replications associated with the intervention, visit: