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Parent SMART (Substance Misuse in Adolescents in Residential Treatment)

Improving Outcomes of Adolescents in Residential Substance Use Treatment via a Technology-Assisted Parenting Intervention

Adolescents in residential substance use (SU) treatment have high risk of relapse after discharge, but very few parents and teens engage in any continuing care. This study aims to improve the outcomes of adolescents following discharge from residential SU treatment by offering their parents a technology-assisted continuing care intervention. Such interventions have the potential to change existing treatment paradigms by extending the reach, duration and scalability of evidence-based care.

Parenting practices, including parental monitoring and parent-adolescent communication, have been established as key predictors of adolescent substance use outcomes following residential treatment. Yet parents face systemic and structural barriers to accessing traditional continuing care. Building upon our successful National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)-funded R34, this study evaluates a technology-assisted parenting intervention called Parent SMART (Substance Misuse in Adolescents in Residential Treatment) as an adjunct to short-term residential treatment as usual (TAU). Adolescent-parent dyads (n=220 dyads; 440 in total) will be randomized to receive either TAU only or Parent SMART plus TAU. Multi-method follow-up assessments (i.e., self-report parent and adolescent measures, parent-adolescent in vivo interaction task, 8-panel urine screens) will be conducted six, 12, and 24 weeks post-discharge. The study addresses the following objectives:

  • Assess the incremental benefit of Parent SMART on parenting skills, adolescent substance use and adolescent problem behaviors.
  • Test whether improvements in parenting skills partially mediate reductions in adolescent SU.

The proposed research serves a high-need, underserved population during a vital treatment juncture. If found effective, the methods used in this study could help address barriers to continuing care and inform the development of a highly scalable intervention model for adolescents in residential treatment.

Project Details

  • Dates: August 2021 – May 2026 
  • Funding source: National Institute on Drug Abuse
  • Grant number: R37DA052918
  • identifier: NCT05169385


  • Principal investigator: Sara Becker, PhD (contact PI)
  • Co-investigator: Sarah Helseth, PhD
  • Project staff: Mika Kearns (lead coordinator), Miranda Olson, Zabin Patel, Hannah Shiller, Yiqing (Alice) Fan, Emily DiBartolo, Kira DiClemente, PhD