Adolescent Social Relationships and the Treatment Process

Findings from Quantitative and Qualitative Analyses

Published in: Journal of Drug Issues, v. 33., no. 4, 2003, p. 865-896

Posted on on January 01, 2003

by Kara Riehman, Ricky N. Bluthenthal, Jaana Juvonen, Andrew R. Morral

Read More

Access further information on this document at

This article was published outside of RAND. The full text of the article can be found at the link above.

Juvenile justice systems increasingly rely on placement of substance-involved adolescents in residential group homes. Research finds differences in pathways to drug abuse, but few studies explore whether gender differences affect treatment response. The authors describe the association between girls' and boys' relationship patterns and their experiences in treatment. Data come from a quantitative study of 449 criminally involved adolescents mandated to residential treatment programs throughout Los Angeles, and 30 semi-structured interviews with a similar group of seven boys and three girls attending a residential treatment program. Quantitative data show that girls had more problematic families and peers and reported more depressive symptoms than boys. Qualitative data indicate that girls' pretreatment networks were almost exclusively comprised of older males acting as `protectors and sexual partners, while boys' included same-sex, same-aged peers. Girls emphasized sexuality in their discussions of in-treatment relationships and had difficulty developing friendships with other girls in the program. Our findings highlight gender differences in relationship patterns that merit further study as potentially important influences on adolescents' treatment responses.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation External publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.