Long-term outcomes of adolescents discharged from residential treatment centers reveal mixed results. Whereas some studies show that adolescents are able to demonstrate long-term success, other studies highlight the difficulty that adolescents have in maintaining their treatment gains. Although previous research has emphasized broad factors that increase the likelihood of long-term success (e.g. importance of the post-discharge, family involvement in treatment), significant ambiguity remains regarding the specific risk and protective factors that are responsible for long-term adolescent adjustment after RTC discharge. Thus, this study investigated specific risk and protective factors related to adolescent success derived from both RTC literature and research related to antisocial and delinquent youth. In particular, it was hypothesized that adolescents who were successful upon 6 month and 6 to 12 month follow-up intervals would be more likely to have accessed mental health services, used community resources, used prescribed medications, avoided substance use, associated with positive peers and avoided negative peer influence than adolescents who recidivated. Fisher’s exact test revealed that adolescents who were successful at both follow-up intervals were significantly more likely to associate with positive peers, avoid negative peers, avoid substance use, and use at least one community resource. Suggestions for how to improve adolescent long-term outcomes following RTC discharge given more knowledge regarding specific risk and protective factors are discussed.
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