ASA8285 - Conducting Successful Treatment with Reluctant or Resistant Adolescent Substance Abusers


by Ron Fagan, M.A., Ph.D.

Ron Fagan, M.A., Ph.D. is formerly a Professor of Sociology at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California. Dr. Fagan currently works as a Care Manager with Anthem.

This course is the copyrighted property of and may not be copied in part or in entirety without the express written permission of For information on how to secure permission to use this course or any part of this course, contact us at:


This course may not be utilized without first making proper payment. Entering this course in an unauthorized manner would represent an ethical violation. 

Course Objectives

This course is designed to provide the mental health clinician with a comprehensive overview of the topic of working with reluctant and resistant adolescent substance abusers and their families. Upon completing this course, the trainee will understand the following:

- Recent trends in adolescent alcohol and other substance use

- The different types and patterns of adolescent alcohol and other substance use

- How to diagnosis adolescent alcohol and other substance use and associated psychiatric disorders

- Preventive techniques for addressing adolescent alcohol and other substance use

- Characteristics of adolescent alcohol and other drug users

- Treatment settings and different types of treatment for adolescent alcohol and other substance use

- The components of effective treatment for adolescents and their families

This intermediate level course is primarily designed for clinicians in the middle stages of their career, or for more advanced clinicians reviewing concepts in this treatment area.


Course length:

 5 contact hours: Core clinical

 Prior to beginning this course, you must read the following agreement related to each mental health clinician's ethical obligations towards fulfilling continuing education requirements.




- to complete this course in its entirety

- to complete all exercises contained in this course

- to complete the course post-test

- to complete the evaluation form after taking this course

 Your decision to continue at this time constitutes acceptance of this agreement.

Section I: Introduction

Section 2: Adolescents and Adolescent Development

Section 3: Adolescent Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) Use

Section 4: Assessing and Diagnosing Adolescent Alcohol and Other Drug Use

Section 5: Preventing and Treating Adolescent Alcohol and Other Drug Use 

Section 6: Treating Adolescent Alcohol and Other Drug Use

Section 7: Working with Adolescents and Their Families

Section 8: Motivating the Adolescent for Treatment

Section 9: Conclusions

References and Test


Section I: Introduction

Course Overview

 Many, if not most, adolescent alcohol and other drug (AOD) users consider treatment in response to some form of external pressure by family members, friends, medical personnel, school personnel, health and social services, the legal system, and/or employers. The purpose of this course is to help counselors and treatment personnel to work more effectively with adolescents who are required or encouraged to participate in counseling or treatment.

Adolescents who come to counseling or treatment involuntarily can, at the least, be very reluctant to fully participate and they often can be very uncooperative and resistant to any type of counseling or treatment. Engaging these adolescents and working with their families presents extraordinary clinical challenges for most counselors and treatment personnel. 

Usually by the time parents and their children come to counseling or treatment, adolescents’ alcohol and other drug problems have escalated and their families and other authorities have lost significant control over them. In addition, adolescents are probably in some trouble at school, in the community, and possibly the legal system as a result of their AOD use.

Because most treatment models are based on clinical work with voluntary clients or at least clients who are cooperating in treatment, much of the current literature is not very helpful in providing assistance on how to work with mandated, involuntary, or not motivated clients (Berg & Shafer, 2004). Fortunately more researchers and clinicians are developing intervention and treatment strategies which target a client’s level of motivation. As a result, there are proven theories and techniques that will improve your chances of success in working with these clients.     

This course is designed for social workers, marriage and family therapists, nurses, psychologists, substance abuse counselors, treatment personnel, health and social services personnel, ministers, and other people who work with these adolescents and their families. The course material is based upon the latest research findings and clinical and treatment practices. 

The course will cover adolescent development, adolescent risk-taking behavior, patterns of adolescent alcohol and other drug use, risk-factors for adolescent alcohol and other drug use, assessing and diagnosing adolescent alcohol and other drug use, preventing adolescent alcohol and other drug use, treating adolescent alcohol and other drug use, major types of treatment, working with parents and guardians, working with adolescents, and motivating adolescents for treatment based upon the five-stage model for change.

The course will review the current research on these topics, supported by a thorough bibliography, and it will give practical treatment and therapy techniques and strategies for working with adolescents and their families.