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David Akiva
David Akiva, BA, MA,
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 167
Experience:  Counselor; Behavioral Consultant
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My nephew is 15, dealing drugs. Parents are at a loss. Hays

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my nephew is 15, dealing drugs. Parents are at a loss. Hays he doesn't care. He is failing in school. What steps should m y brother and sister-in-law be taking?
Therapist :

Hello and thank you for brining your question to

I’ve worked as a treatment program development consultant and program psychotherapist to highly emotionally and behaviorally troubled youth. I want to get right to your answer as I think I can really help here and save your family a lot of time and money.

The drug dealing and low academic performance represent very strong risk factors for developing long lasting mental health, substance abuse and serious involvement with the criminal justice system. These problems are probably masking other, underling risk factors like “peer deviancy training” and “negative peer socialization effects” – learning and getting high levels of social reward for engaging in problematic anti-social and possibly criminal behavior.

Your family needs to act and act as soon as possible to get these behaviors under control. The longer they go un-treated the more difficult they become to treat. The best thing to do right now is to get the family involved with either a local multi-systemic therapy (MST) program or a functional family therapy program (FFT). Both are evidence-based programs that work very intensively with the parents and the teen and have the highest levels of science-proven long lasting results. The programs are home based and are hundreds of times better than residential or any group treatment programs. They are often heavily funded because they have been proven to get powerful positive results and save the government lots of money over time. These programs are proven to:

Drastically and lastingly reduce child and teen antisocial/criminal behavior, incarceration rates and youth violent offending;

Significantly reduce child and youth behavioral and mental health problems including substance abuse;

Dramatically reduce or eliminate behavioral management problems in the home including defiance, acting-out and AWOLs (run away rates);

Systematically meet the specialized teen treatment needs by addressing underling emotional or psychological issues;

Stabilizes and in most cases, normalize the teen’s academic performance, attendance and behavior at school;

Protects teens from early pregnancy, early and future drug abuse, victimization, partner violence offending, developing serious life long mental health problems and from going to prison;

Result in positive treatment and behavior change effects that remain stable years after treatment is over.

I would get in touch with local MST and FFT treatment program managers and ask as many questions as you can. Find out if there are active programs and what you need to do get this individual and his family signed up.

If there is a waiting list and you have insurance coverage here, get a list of local therapists who may be involved in the MST and FFT programs and see if you can some private family intervention until the program can begin for you. If you chose to work with a psychologist or therapist outside of these programs, talk to therapists who are fully trained MST and/or FFT therapists and ask who the best private practitioners are in your area who have direct knowledge in these kinds of evidence-based treatment programs. Don’t be afraid to call and ask lots of questions for free before making a decision about treatment. Try to stay away from group treatment programs as most of them are actually proven to be harmful because of putting anti-social peers together in the same program. Really learn about “peer deviancy training” or the negative long term effects of letting troubled teens hang out with troubled teens, that will be key here.

Here are some links to get you started learning about and accessing the best available evidence based treatment programs:

Have all involved read these sites, and have the parents contact reps on these sites and ask questions about the programs. Ask lots of questions and learn as much as you can about these approaches. Full learning and involvement by the parents is highly predictive of treatment success. Most therapy interventions fail and often make things worse if the therapist is not trained and experienced in the treatment practices indicated in these programs.

I hope this answer’s your question. If so, please don’t forget to press the “Accept” button on your screen. If you feel I’ve missed something please let me know and I’ll do my best to improve my answer for you, before you pay.

I wish you and your family, the very, very best!

Customer: Thank you.
Therapist :

You are very welcome!

Therapist :

P.S. Please press the "Accept" button on your screen, so I can be recognized for my work researching and providing your answer.

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