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The Adolescent Community Reinforcement Approach (A-CRA) to alcohol and substance use treatment is a specific behavioral intervention that seeks to replace environmental contingencies that have supported alcohol or drug use with prosocial activities and behaviors that support recovery and is heavy tailored on the aforementioned CRA principles. In other words it is critical for substance abusing individuals to restructure their lives so that non-drinking/non-using is more rewarding than drinking/using. This outpatient program targets youth 12 to 22 years old. A-CRA includes guidelines for three types of sessions: adolescents alone, parents/caregivers alone, and adolescents and parents/caregivers together. The Community Reinforcement Approach for alcohol abuse and dependence has been used with adults since the early 1970s and with youth 18 years and younger since the mid 90s.

For instance, the improvement of a social and recreational life is considered critical. Although many healthy individuals would have no difficulty enhancing their social lives if they suddenly were encouraged to make it more of a priority, clients who have dealt with substance abuse problems for years face extra challenges. In many cases these individuals’ entire social networks have revolved around drugs, and thus the idea of establishing a new non-using network can be overwhelming. Many of these clients do not have a clue as to where to begin the process, and they are intimidated at the thought of trying something new without being under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In terms of adolescent clients in particular, their families are not always the best role models for healthy recreation, in part due to the absence of sufficient time or money, and sometimes due to drug use themselves. Thus, we are left with clients who now have huge blocks of time freed up that previously had been devoted to abusing drugs; clients who do not have the skills to know how to fill that time with healthy and enjoyable activities that will put them in contact with non-using peers.