Substance Use Intervention & Treatment Services

Substance use intervention and treatment services are available in all DJJ facilities.

In short term settings such as regional youth detention centers (RYDCs), substance use intervention services are provided by RYDC Program and specialized trained contracted staff for those youth who have identified substance use intervention needs. Youth who receive these intervention services are provided with The Seven Challenges – Brief model, which is explained in more detail below.

The Seven Challenges – Brief, also known as Brief Challenges™, is the brief therapy version of The Seven Challenges®, which is listed on SAMHSA’s National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices.  Brief Challenges is designed for adolescents who have a known or suspected drug problem and is used in four individual sessions lasting approximately one hour each.  Brief Challenges is designed to serve three functions:

  • Assessment of drug and co-occurring problems, with feedback to youth
  • Brief treatment for drug problems
  • Support in responding to external pressures for abstinence

These sessions can stand alone or serve as an entry point to more services for youth who may want, or need, to receive additional counseling.

In youth development campuses (YDCs), youth with acute or serious substance treatment needs may receive substance use treatment in a designated living unit that utilizes a therapeutic community, the residential substance abuse treatment units (RSAT), which are located at three YDC campuses. Those youth whose needs are less severe or who have barriers to living on an RSAT unit receive substance use treatment services through weekly group sessions regardless of their housing assignment. This treatment is available at all YDCs. Youth who receive these treatment services are provided with The Seven Challenges treatment curriculum, which is designed specifically for adolescents with drug problems, to motivate a decision and commitment to change and to support success in implementing the desired changes. The Seven Challenges program simultaneously helps young people address their drug problems as well as their co-occurring life skill deficits, situational problems, and psychological problems.


The Seven Challenges is a comprehensive counseling program for young people that incorporates work on alcohol and other drug problems. It is designed to motivate youth to evaluate their lives, consider changes they may wish to make, and then succeed in implementing the desired changes. It supports them in taking power over their own lives.

In The Seven Challenges, young people address their drug problems, their co-occurring life skill deficits, and their situational and psychological problems. Although counselors in the program provide a structure for groups and a framework for individual sessions, the content of each session is exceptionally flexible, in response to the immediate needs of youth. It is not pre-scripted. 


To learn more about The Seven Challenges, visit them on the web at