Youth Drug Court
Substance Abuse

  • Utah County's Youth Drug Court is a collaborative effort among the 4th District Juvenile Court, Juvenile Parole Authority, the Utah County Attorney's Office - Civil Division, Office of the Public Defender, Youth Corrections, all three Utah County School Districts, and the Division of Substance Abuse. Utah County's program has been operating since 1999, and its current capacity is 26 youth.

  • Adolescents are less likely than adults to acknowledge adverse consequences of their drug use, thus incentives and sanctions have been integrated into the program in order to provide external motivation. Overall, the process is designed to facilitate prompt multi-system responses to youth involved in drug and alcohol offenses. The process is non-adversarial, emphasizing the support of the youth and family.

  • Potential clients are identified early by juvenile court probation officers. Admission criteria include: an arrest involving drugs or alcohol; an evaluation resulting in a determination of a substance abuse or dependence problem; motivation for treatment, parental involvement and support of the program, and voluntary participation.

  • The youth drug court approach is non-adversarial. Participants are made aware of their rights, they are held accountable, and the safety of the community is protected.

  • Graduation criteria include: completion of all drug court requirements, clean drug tests during the entire fourth phase of the program, attend and pass school classes or work 40 hours per week.

  • Program characteristics include heavy reliance on Multi-Systemic Therapy (MST) which has been shown to be particularly effective with this population. In fact, a recent 4 year follow-up study indicated that the rates of substance abuse arrests and treatment dropouts were 4 and 5 times better than a non MST treatment group. The model used for client interaction, case management, case staffing, and the client and family's experience in the court room on a weekly basis can correctly be considered MST.

  • Please refer to the links page for additional sources of information on Youth Drug Court program