Alcohol Education Guide
to Reducing Harmful Drinking

Motivational Interviewing for Incarcerated Adolescents



Implementer: University of Rhode Island

Partners: National Institute on Drug Abuse

Program Design: Interventions are about 90 minutes at baseline and about 60 minutes at booster. MI sections include developing rapport, exploration of motivation (pros and cons), personalized assessment feedback, imagining the future with and without change, and establishing goals. The research counselors’ therapeutic style and protocol focus on empathy, not arguing, developing discrepancy, self-efficacy, and personal choice.

Evaluation: Adolescents (n = 105) between the ages of 14 and 19 who reported drinking alcohol and/or using marijuana were recruited at a state juvenile correctional facility and randomly assigned to receive MI or Relaxation Training (RT) shortly after the baseline assessment ahead of receiving the facility’s standard care psycho-educational group treatment for substance use and abuse.

 -RT is designed to control for the effects of attending individual intervention by instructing participants in relaxation and meditation.

Measures included structured clinical interview for DSM-IV (SCID-I), Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression Scale (CES-D), and Risky Behaviors Questionnaire (RCQ) including self-report of driving under the influence and being a passenger in a vehicle driven by someone under the influence.

Key findings: Follow-up assessment three months after the intervention showed that, as compared to RT, adolescents who received MI had lower rates of driving under the influence and being a passenger in a car with someone who had been drinking.

-Effects were moderated by levels of depression. At low levels of depression, MI evidenced lower rates of these behaviors, while at high levels of depression, effects for MI and RT were equivalent. RT was associated with lower rates of driving under the influence and being a passenger in a car with someone who had been drinking among those with high depressive symptoms as compared to others.


Stein, L.A.R., Colby, S.M., Barnett, N.P., Monti, P.M., Golembeske, C., & Lebeau-Craven, R. (2006). Effects of motivational interviewing for incarcerated adolescents on driving under the influence after release. The American Journal on Addictions, 15(Suppl 1), 50-57. 

Target Audience: High school (15-18 years old), Middle school (10-14 years), University/young adults (18-21 years)
Issues: Drinking and Driving
Setting: Correctional facility
Approach: Motivational Interviewing, Motivation Enhancement
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