New Directions to Effectively Address Co-occurring Mental Disorders outlines program modifications for juvenile drug courts to consider and describes two models that have successfully served youth with co-occurring disorders. Juvenile drug treatment courts are specialized court docket programs designed for youth in contact with the juvenile justice system who have substance use disorders. These courts seek to reduce substance use and recidivism through judicial interaction, assessment of risks and needs, ongoing monitoring and supervision, engagement in treatment and rehabilitation, and application of sanctions and incentives. 

This brief also examines the necessity for relationship-building as a core factor in juvenile drug treatment court strategies. These strategies involve the collaboration of a multidisciplinary team of judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, treatment professionals, and community correction staff who work together to create a coordinated, systemic approach to working with youth and their families. Effective collaboration allows juvenile drug treatment courts to modify and expand their program missions, screening and assessment domains, access to integrated care models, and outcome measures to ensure that youth with co-occurring disorders can achieve their treatment goals.  

The National Center for Youth Opportunity and Justice (NCYOJ) originally developed and maintained this resource. The NCYOJ was operated by Policy Research, Inc. and operated from 2001 to 2022 and was formerly known as the National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice. The NCYOJ improved life opportunities for youth through systems and practice improvement initiatives.  

This resource should be viewed as a reference document. It has not been updated since its publication. In addition, this document has not been made 508 compliant. If you would like a 508 compliant version of this document, please email 

This resource was first shared in 2014. 

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