Reported in 2008, 60.6 percent of juveniles between the ages of 12 to 17 were dependent on or abused drugs as age increased these numbers began to taper down. 37.4 percent of juveniles between the ages of 18 to 25 and 24. 3 percent of adults aged 26 or older (SAMHSA, 2012). 2010 trends of incarcerated juveniles were reported at 779,700 juveniles between the ages of 18-29 either in jail or prison (SAMHSA, 2012). The overall cost for juvenile incarceration is approximately $14.4 billion per year (CASA, 2010). Juvenile costs for substances use, $68 billion per year. Equivalent to $2280 a year per each juvenile in the US (CASA, 2010). The therapeutic approach of human-canine interaction prove to assist those with building skills, increasing competence and confidence, facilitating healthy attachment, and strengthening of emotional and behavioral regulation (Project POOCH, 2012). MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility’s Project POOCH Dr. Merriam from Pepperdine University studied the program for three years and of the juveniles she interviewed reported a zero percent recidivism rate (Project POOCH, 2012).
Program goal:• Reduce recidivism through object relations attachment vs. traditional substance abuse therapy.• Use alternate treatment to encourage other coping mechanisms beyond substances• Change the juveniles bond from a substance to a living being• Provide unwanted animals with a forever home• Train juveniles how to care for another as a way to prepare for adulthood• Teach the juveniles responsibilities through feeding, cleaning and monitoring animals• Encourage teamwork
Program is offered to youth throughout their incarceration; minimum stay is 6 months and the maximum stay is length of incarceration. Housing maximum for the pilot will be 20 inmates Estimated program cost is $200,000 for a two year pilot project in one youth facility. Ideally a youth facility with an in place substance abuse program looking for a contract renewal, allowing this program to be implemented without structural change. Staff includes Two counselors Three therapists One program director Support officer staff – provided by the facility Two mentors One vocational instructors Teens are linked with an animal where they are responsible for the daily care and training. Upon departure the teen has the option to take or leave the animal. Mandatory monthly drug testing; urinalysis, hair follicle, etc.
Project POOCH. (2012). Our mission: Research. Retrieved on 5/12/2012: http://www.pooch.org/about.php#research National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, Columbia University. (2010). Adolescent substance use: America’s #1 public health problem. Retrieved on 5/12/2012: http://www.casacolumbia.org/upload/2011/20110629substanceuseslide s.pdf.