Challenges and opportunities of group therapy for adolescent substance abuse: a critical review

Addict Behav. 2005 Oct;30(9):1765-74. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2005.07.002. Epub 2005 Jul 26.


Group intervention has been the most commonly employed treatment modality for adolescents with substance use disorders (SUD). Evidence has been accumulating in support for the efficacy of diverse forms of group therapy that have been utilized with adolescents. It has been argued however, that aggregation of youths who display problem behavior into group interventions may, under some conditions, produce iatrogenic effects on all participants. This assertion known also as "deviancy training" and its presumed effect on treatment outcomes has created a barrier to progress regardless of the fact that it has not been tested or empirically supported in heterogeneous groups of adolescents treated for SUD. It is imperative to optimize group intervention while considering how to prevent, reduce and control, potentially iatrogenic effects associated with the aggregation of antisocial youths in heterogeneous groups. The main objective of this review is to address the challenges and opportunities regarding group treatment of adolescent SUD.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology
  • Aggression / psychology
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods
  • Humans
  • Iatrogenic Disease / prevention & control
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Peer Group
  • Psychotherapy, Group / methods*
  • Social Support
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / therapy*