top of page

Adolescent Community

Reinforcement Approach (A-CRA)

About the Program 

The A-CRA approach to alcohol and substance use treatment incorporates a behavioral modification intervention that seeks to increase a family’s, educational, vocational and social reinforces to support the adolescent’s recovery. It is an evidenced based practice that uses behavioral techniques and skills training to teach adolescents new ways of handling life’s problems without alcohol and drugs. A-CRA is best suited for adolescents 12—18 years of age.


A-CRA is listed in the SAMSHA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration) National Registry of Evidence Based Programs & Practices. 

  • Community reinforcement counseling models such as A-CRA, reduce use and time in institutions and increase hours worked and time spent with their families.

  • A-CRA has been found to be effective across multiple populations, cultures and living conditions.

How It Works 

  • Teaches adolescents alternative coping, communication and problem solving skills.

  • Helps adolescents gain insight into their substance use.

  • Helps adolescents choose more socially favorable alternatives

  • Teaches the adolescent when and where to use new techniques.

  • Uses positive reinforcement.

  • Adolescents are not penalized for setbacks or challenges.

Program Goals 


Goals for Adolescent Sessions

  • Abstinence from marijuana, other drugs, and alcohol.

  • Positive social activity.

  • Positive peer relationships.

  • Improved relationships with family.


Goals for Caregiver Session

  • Motivate participation in the ACRA process.

  • Adolescent’s abstinence from marijuana, other drugs and alcohol.

  • Provide information to the caregivers about effective parenting


Goals for working with Community

  • Improve the adolescent’s environment

  • Teach skills through role-play

How it's Structured

  • A-CRA is short term (minimum of 14 sessions*)

  • 10 individual sessions with the adolescent.

  • 2 individual sessions with a supportive caregiver .

  • 2 joint sessions with a Essential Elements

  • Role-play ensures safe practice of newly learned skills

  • Homework provides constant reinforcement of newly gained skills

  • Caregivers also learn skills to support their adolescent’s recovery.

  • ***Caregiver participation is essential to the success of A-CRA.

For more information about the Center for Children Adolescent Community Reinforcement approach please contact our office at: or call 301.609.9887

bottom of page