Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT)


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Sonia Zimmerman


Adolescent; Substance-Related Disorders -- therapy


The current occupational therapy literature has limited information regarding the use of occupational therapy interventions for substance abuse specific to the adolescent population. Adolescents between the ages of 12 to 17 years have increased their engagement in illicit drug use from 9.3% in 2008 to 10% in 2009 (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2009). In regards to alcohol use, in 2009, approximately 10.4 million persons (27%) ages 12-20 years reported drinking alcohol within the last month (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2009). According to Martin, Bliven, and Boisvert, (2008) substance abuse addictions significantly impact the person’s occupational performance, self-esteem, and overall quality of life. The concern is the interventions that are utilized are directed at the adult population. Limited research has been completed addressing the role of the occupational therapist within the recovery process of adolescents with substance related disorders.

A literature review was conducted utilizing multiple online databases including, PubMed, CINAHL, American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), PsychInfo, Academic Search Premier, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and Google Scholar. Additional textbooks and government based websites regarding information relating to occupational therapy and substance related disorders were also referenced.

The developed guide is to provide practicing occupational therapists with effective options for assessments, interventions, discharge planning options and additional resources applicable to the adolescent population with substance related disorders. This guide will be organized into categories relating to the chosen occupational therapy model, the Model of Human Occupation (MOHO) which was incorporated to guide the intervention process for occupational therapists. The assessments described in the guide are based on the MOHO components of volition, habituation, performance capacity, and environment (Kielhofner, 2009). These assessments are organized into three categories including self-administered, interview, and observational assessments. The interventions are designed utilizing components of evidence-based treatments including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, Brief Interventions, and 12-Step Programs. These interventions are evidence-based and widely accepted methods of treatment. Discharge planning options include outcome measure assessments beneficial for obtaining objective data, and additional information to promote abstinence for the adolescent. Additional resources are included for the utilization by the occupational therapist, the adolescent and the adolescent’s caregivers.