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Phoenix House Second Chance
Evaluation of Second Chance, a Substance Abuse Brief Intervention for Adolescent First Time Offenders

PHOENIX HOUSES OF THE MID-ATLANTIC, ARLINGTON, VA

 LTG conducts an evaluation of the Second  Chance Program for Phoenix Houses in  Arlington, VA
picture of teens in a class room According to the Intake Coordinator at Arlington Family and Juvenile Court Service, the Second Chance program led to a reduction of 39 percent in adjudicated cases for marijuana possession, and a 24 percent reduction in adjudicated cases for under-age possession of alcohol in 2012 as compared to 2011.

The Second Chance Project provided an evidence base for a new intervention aimed at teen first-time drug and alcohol offenders in Arlington Co., VA. The on-going intervention was a joint effort of the Arlington Co. Public Schools, the county Department of Human Services, and the county court system. LTG designed and conducted the evaluation, and assisted the Second Chance interveners with manualizing and regularizing the two-day intervention for teens and their parents. The evaluation used a pre/post matched-comparison design to compare changes in attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs between the intervention group (n=111) and the comparison group (weighted n=111). The matched comparison group was drawn from a large general sample (N~=2,000) of students from the Arlington Co. Public Schools who were all given the outcome instrument twice, six weeks apart. The comparison group was created by matching individuals from the large pool to the intervention group on individual characteristics, and then applying sample weights to match the intervention group. Results from the two-group, two-timepoint analyses provided evidence of statistically-significant pre/post changes in the intervention group.


The curriculum was designed to educate youth about the consequences of alcohol and drug use in an engaging and non-judgemental fashion. The curriculum consists of three sections:

  1. Participants learn about the effects of substances on the adolescent brain.
  2. Participants examine their own substance use behaviors, including the potential risks they face with continued use.
  3. Participants develop an action plan for addressing their substance use in the future. This includes taking an inventory of their own defense mechanisms as well as developmental assets that function as risk factors, and practicing refusal skills in high-risk situations, i.e., parties, peer pressure, etc.


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