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Parents’ Translational Research Center

Funding Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse (P50-DA027841)

Project Period: 8/1/2010-6/30/2017

Principal Investigator: Kimberly C. Kirby, Ph.D.

Co-Investigators: Kathy Meyers, Ph.D., John S. Cacciola, Ph.D., John Grabowski, Ph.D., and Gerald August, Ph.D.

Project Summary: In the addiction field, there is little availability of care and support services, prior to or following specialty care.  This is especially true in the management of substance use disorders among adolescents and young adults.  There is clear need for earlier interventions once substance use starts, to arrest the progression toward addiction; and for continuing care interventions within the home and community during and following formal treatment, to enhance, maintain, and extend treatment gains.  It is important to close these gaps in the care continuum available for youth with substance use disorders.  Dangerous in themselves, substance use problems are also associated with a variety of significant health and safety consequences such as violence, car accidents, and premature death.

The Parents’ Translational Research Center (PTRC) begins with the view that: parents could, and would like to play these important roles in extending the care continuum for youth with substance use problems; that most parents do not have the knowledge and skills to take on these roles responsibly; but that they could do so if they were provided evidence-based knowledge, instruction, skills and practical tools.  Thus, this Center’s focus on parents and the use of translational research methods come together to define our main goal:  the translation of key elements from proven clinical interventions into practical tools for parents to use in addressing the substance use problems of their adolescent and young adult children.  To these ends, the PTRC aims to help parents of adolescent and young adult substance users by bringing an experienced, multidisciplinary team of researchers, communications experts, scientific advisors and parents themselves to adapt, evaluate and communicate translated-evidence based interventions directly to parents – without sacrificing the original principles of care or the therapeutic approach.  There are three main projects within the center.  Project 1 (Grabowski, PI) adapted and tested a parent-focused version of a brief intervention for parents when they discover active substance use by their adolescent; Project 2 (Cacciola, PI) developed and tested a Consumer Guide to adolescent treatment that provides objective, comparative information on evidence-based practices available in community treatment programs; and Project 3 (Kirby, PI) adapted and tested a parent-focused version of a behavioral intervention (CRAFT) to help parents engage and motivate treatment-resistant youth. In addition to the three main projects, we conducted pilot studies that explored foster parents willingness to foster substance-using adolescents, how parents believe they would act if they discover their child is using substances, and a pilot test of online CRAFT which was developed by the PTRC. We also developed several websites including a website that helps parents and other family members find information on adolescent and young adult substance use regardless of what stage of use their child is in. Each resource indicates the level of scientific support behind it so parents know it is a resource they can trust. In addition, we developed a website that helps parents find support groups in their area.