The Residential Student Assistance Program (RSAP) is a substance abuse intervention program developed for high-risk adolescents living in residential facilities. The program is based on Employee Assistance Programs that are used by businesses to identify and aid employees whose work performance and lives had been adversely affected by substance abuse. It places trained professionals in residential facilities to provide youth with a full range of culturally sensitive substance abuse prevention and intervention services.
The program targets adolescents (ages 12–18) who have been placed in residential facilities (such as foster care facilities, treatment centers for youth with psychiatric problems, and juvenile correctional facilities) and are at high risk for alcohol and other drug (AOD) use. The program targets users and youth at risk of becoming users.
Trained (master of social work) RSAP counselors work with adolescents individually and in small groups to help residents decrease their risk factors for substance abuse and increase their overall resiliency. RSAP counselors also conduct training for facility staff, coordinate programs and services for youth, and provide follow-up treatment and referrals.
The RSAP model focuses on wellness and addresses factors that may hinder youth from being AOD-free. The specific program components include:
- The Prevention/Education Discussion Series. RSAP counselors conduct this eight-session substance use education program in groups of 8–10 youth. Youth discuss and role-play issues related to the consequences of substance use, family problems, and stress.
- Assessment. Residents are seen individually to determine their level of substance use, family substance abuse, and need for additional services.
- Individual and group counseling. RSAP counselors conduct a series of 8 to 12 group counseling sessions. Groups are differentiated by developmental differences, substance use patterns, and family history of substance abuse. Individual sessions are scheduled as needed for those who have chemically dependent parents and/or are using AOD.
- Referral and consultation. RSAP counselors refer residents who require assistance to treatment, more intensive counseling, or wish to participate in 12-step groups (such as Alcoholic Anonymous) outside of the facility.
13 to 19
Overall AOD Use
Morehouse and Tobler (2000) found there were significant differences between the intervention and comparison groups on the quantity–frequency index, which measured the number of days of alcohol and other drug (AOD) use. Youth who participated in the Residential Student Assistance Program (RSAP) reported significantly less AOD use compared with the comparison group in the last 30 days. The effect size was 0.51, signifying moderate program impact. This converts to a 25 percent reduction in AOD use.
Alcohol and Marijuana Use
When examined separately, the same magnitude and direction were observed for reported use of alcohol and marijuana. Intervention youth were significantly less likely to use alcohol and marijuana compared with the comparison group.