Examination of the Role of Therapeutic Alliance, Treatment Dose, and Treatment Completion in the Effectiveness of The Seven Challenges

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Adolescent alcohol and illicit drug (AOD) use is a major public health concern. This longitudinal study examines the effectiveness of The Seven Challenges in reducing adolescent substance use and mental health problems, as well as the process by which it is effective. Participants were 89 adolescents (72 male, 17 female) enrolled in a 3 month intensive outpatient adolescent substance abuse treatment program using The Seven Challenges and who provided self-report data at pre- and post-treatment. Results indicated that The Seven Challenges was effective at increasing the number of days refrained from using AOD, reducing use of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other drugs, and reducing substance use problems and internal mental distress. Results also indicated that The Seven Challenges drug counselors effectively established and maintained therapeutic alliance but this seems to not play a role in the effectiveness of The Seven Challenges. Both treatment dose and completion played a role in the effectiveness of The Seven Challenges; they were both positively related to post-treatment days refrained from AOD use, and negatively related to days of THC use, substance use problems, and internal mental distress. However, the strength of the influence of treatment completion was stronger when treatment dose was low than when it was high. Despite a small sample and other limitations, findings add to existing literature that suggests that The Seven Challenges is an effective substance abuse treatment for adolescents. Furthermore, findings suggest that adolescent substance abuse treatment should focus on clients meeting pre-determined program goals as well as on dose.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-24
Number of pages24
JournalChild and Adolescent Social Work Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014



  • Adolescent
  • Substance abuse
  • Therapeutic alliance
  • Treatment effectiveness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences(all)

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