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Treatment Research Institute Receives $3 Million Grant from Conrad N. Hilton Foundation to Implement, in Partnership with Phoenix House, an Innovative Substance Use Prevention Program in New York Schools
[January 07, 2014]

Treatment Research Institute Receives $3 Million Grant from Conrad N. Hilton Foundation to Implement, in Partnership with Phoenix House, an Innovative Substance Use Prevention Program in New York Schools

PHILADELPHIA --(Business Wire)--

The Treatment Research Institute (TRI) has been awarded a $3 million grant over three years by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation to develop and test an innovative new approach to substance abuse prevention, education and intervention for adolescents. TRI will work with clinical partner, Phoenix House Foundation, to implement and evaluate this new approach to Screening and Brief Intervention (SBI) in several New York high schools.

Screening, Brief Intervention, Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) is an evidence-based practice that consists of screening for risky substance use, followed by a brief motivational intervention and when necessary, referral to treatment. Decades of research in medical settings has shown that this practice can significantly delay onset and reduce use of alcohol and other drugs.

The goal of this project is to develop a new model of SBIRT for adolescents that can be delivered within the context of the school environment, and in a manner that is both engaging and effective for adolescents.

"Substance use disorders wreak havoc in the lives of far too many families across the country and contribute to many of our communities most difficult problems including homelessness, incarceration and unemployment," says Steven M. Hilton, President and CEO of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. "We know youth are particularly vulnerable to the harms associated with substance misuse and if we can prevent them from using or intervene early it is unlikely they will develop a substance use disorder. This is why the foundation has made prevention of adolescent substance use a major funding priority. We believe that this project has the potential to lay the groundwork to change the way in which prevention and early intervention is delivered in this country."

The program will use a unique, computerized screening tool to engage over 2000 adolescents through "gaming" graphics and videos that simultaneously capture their interest, inform them about the potential dangers of alcohol and other substances, and screen them for at-risk behaviors. This will be followed by a voluntary, brief motivational counseling session to check in on students, address their stresses and reinforce positive health decisions.

CEO of the Treatment Research Institute, A. Thomas McLellan explains, "We know that SBIRT research protocols cannot simply be dropped into schools and be expected to work. In order for this program to be effective, it must be engaging to adolescents, comport with school curricula and operations, and be financially self-sustaining. It must 'work' for numerous involved stakeholders including students, parents, teachers, insurers and policy-makers. That is what we are trying to achieve with this program."

The adaptation of SBIRT into school settings will require the coordination of multiple partners. Through the collaborative efforts of TRI and Phoenix House, with guidance provided by the NYSBIRT Policy Advisory Committee, the project's ultimate goal is to build a sustainable model that can be replicated in additional schools while expanding reimbursement capabilities in school settings.

Howard Meitiner, President and CEO of Phoenix House Foundation states, "Adolescence is the 'at-risk' period for the development of substance use problems. In fact, over 90% of substance use problems start between the ages of 12 and 20 years. At Phoenix House, we see too many young More than 90% of devastated by addiction. Our goal is to reach kids sooner - before they develop a serious problem. Our goal is to change the trajecory for these adolescents."

Because problems can emerge quickly during adolescence, the program aims to prevent them by giving students accurate information, identify emerging problems and intervene early. Once fully implemented, the program will be delivered to high school students twice a year in order to ensure that potential risks are identified as early as possible.

About the Treatment Research Institute

Treatment Research Institute has been a leader in the substance use research filed, with a belief that science can only be truly impactful when it is used to improve policies, programs and practices. TRI's work focuses on applying research to change behaviors, with the ultimate goal of improving outcomes for individuals, families and communities affected by addiction.

Collaborations with distinguished partners from across the globe have enhanced TRI's quest to advance the way in which addiction is perceived and cared for. TRI's relentless commitment to discovering and disseminating SOLUTIONS to substance-use problems drives its work, mission and vision. Learn more about TRI at

About Phoenix House

As a leading nonprofit provider of substance abuse treatment and prevention services since 1967, Phoenix House helps more than 7,000 men, women and teens each day as they overcome addiction and begin new lives in recovery. Our research-tested treatment methods and clinical practices meet the needs of each individual client. Our nearly 150 programs in California, Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Maryland, and Metro D.C. welcome clients from every level of society and address a broad range of behavioral problems. We work with kids at risk, support clients in recovery, and offer a wide array of treatment options as well as supportive services ranging from vocational training and counseling to expressive arts therapy.

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