for females ages 12-24 (full criteria)
healthy people welcome
study started
estimated completion
Marina Tolou-Shams, Ph.D.(ucsf)



Girls in the juvenile justice system have unique developmental pathways to drug use and co-occurring risk (e.g., HIV/STI) behaviors that have typically not been considered or tested in order to identify evidence-based gender-specific substance use treatment approaches for this population. This study will advance scientific knowledge and clinical practice in the drug treatment and public health fields by testing the efficacy of a pre-existing, widely disseminated gender-responsive substance use treatment (VOICES) on drug use and HIV/STI risk behavior outcomes for a broad range of substance using girls and young women (ages 12-24) who are at-risk for or already involved with the justice system.


Compared to both non-offending females and male offending counterparts, offending girls are at significantly greater risk for the development of substance use disorders, psychiatric symptoms and negative health outcomes, such as HIV/AIDS or other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Research suggests that girls may have different developmental pathways to drug use, initial legal involvement and co-occurring negative health outcomes that support the importance of testing gender-specific treatments for juvenile justice girls. Although there is recent increased emphasis on gender-specific programming in juvenile justice, empirically supported gender specific interventions to improve health, mental health and/or legal outcomes among juvenile justice girls are lacking. The objective of this Stage II treatment trial is therefore to test the efficacy of a pre-existing, widely disseminated gender-responsive drug use treatment (VOICES) among 130 girls who are at-risk for or already involved with the justice system. We seek to test the effect of VOICES on girls' drug and alcohol use, HIV/STI risk, psychiatric symptoms and recidivism as well as explore moderators and mediators of outcomes. Girls and young women, ages 12-24 (N= 6 juveniles for Phase I Intervention Run-Through; N=130 for Phase II RCT study) will be recruited from justice partners (probation, diversion programs) and school partners (high schools/middle schools). Participants will be randomized to either the VOICES (active) intervention (n=65) or a Girl Health (attention control) condition (n=65). In Phase I (first six months of Year 1), 6 juveniles will be recruited to complete the Intervention Run-Through and research assessment once to allow testing of RCT intervention and assessment procedures prior to the RCT phase. In Phase II (last half of Year 1 through Year 4), 130 girls will be recruited and randomized at baseline and then re-assessed at mid-treatment, end of treatment, 3 months and 6 months post-intervention. Biological specimens for juvenile drug use will also be collected at each 3-month assessment. Efficacy trial results can be used to make immediate changes to current widespread program delivery resulting in direct impact on the field of evidence-based gender-responsive substance use interventions for juvenile justice girls and young women.


Drug Use Adolescent Juvenile Justice Marijuana Gender Responsive Girls HIV Sexual Risk VOICES Group Girl Health Group


You can join if…

Open to females ages 12-24

130 court-involved, non-incarcerated (CINI) female juvenile offenders or those at-risk for court-involvement, ages 12-24, who report any alcohol, marijuana or other drug use in the past 90 days will be eligible for enrollment with the following criteria:

1) Determined to be in need of substance use treatment by the court intake worker, probation officer, presiding judge or magistrate, and/or school counselor; 2) Legal guardian available to consent for child's participation, if the child is under the age of 18, and 3) Child is English speaking.

You CAN'T join if...

  1. meet DSM-V criteria for substance use disorder with current severity rating of severe (6 or more symptoms) (as determined through referral partner);
  2. already in substance use treatment (residential or outpatient) and wish to remain with outside provider (as determined through referral partner);
  3. observable cognitive or developmental delays or active psychosis that would interfere with completing consent, assessment or intervention.


  • UCSF Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital
    San Francisco California 94131 United States

Lead Scientist

  • Marina Tolou-Shams, Ph.D. (ucsf)
    Dr. Tolou-Shams is a UCSF Associate Professor, In Residence in the Department of Psychiatry and Division Director of Infant, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Zuckerberg SF General Hospital. Prior to joining the UCSF faculty, she held an appointment as Associate Professor (Research) in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavior at Brown Medical School.


in progress, not accepting new patients
Start Date
Completion Date
University of California, San Francisco
Study Type
Last Updated