Reform schools are substance abuse free units which support intoxicant-free lifestyles and offer alternative operating models to substance abuse. Care and education influence attitudes towards intoxicants as well as the conditions that create problematic use of intoxicants and a culture that supports this. The smooth flow of daily life and school attendance, meaningful engagement and social contacts as well as strengthening healthy lifestyles prevent substance abuse. Substance abuse is monitored and an intoxicant free lifestyle is also supported by restriction measures in accordance with the Child Welfare Act.


The goal of substance abuse treatment is to form an idea of the significance of intoxicants for the young person and of the factors that increase substance abuse. The planning of substance abuse treatment takes into account whether the young person is using intoxicants for the first time or has engaged in recurrent substance abuse.  There is also reason to assess and reflect on whether the young person has substance addiction or is using intoxicants as a symptom.


The substance abuse treatment at the reform school utilised the perspectives of several different theoretical frames that complement one another and can be used to structure the care relationship and understand the situation of the young person and his or her family. Attachment theory and trauma theory as well as the cognitive-behavioural development theory underlie substance abuse treatment. Substance abuse treatment also pays attention to young people’s overlapping problems, age and development stage as well as family relations. Different cognitive, action-based, arts-based, autobiographical and family work methods as well as acupuncture are applied in substance abuse work.


The substance abuse treatment period starts with charting the person’s current situation and typically lasts for four weeks.  An individual substance abuse treatment plan is prepared for the young person, and this is supplemented during the treatment period. The young person’s history and experiences of substance use as well as information related to intoxicants is discussed with the young person. The young person's substance abuse process is examined individually, for example by processing desires, risks for relapsing, hazardous situations and preventing them and skills in refusing intoxicants. Alternative activities to substance abuse are also considered with the young person and networks are activated to support the young person’s intoxicant-free lifestyle.

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