“I found STOP SHORT of Addiction to stand out from the other court-provided programs. The first class uses great scare tactics to discourage the repetition of misbehavior. The orange jumpsuits, handcuffs, and guest speaker discouraged drug and alcohol use for our personal safety as well as the safety of others. I liked how the guest speakers at the second session were able to provide personal insight and opinions…Overall, I believe STOP SHORT of Addiction to be a great program.”

– STOP SHORT of Addiction participant


Based on our successful SHORTSTOP model, STOP SHORT of Addiction provides an alternative to incarceration that includes group substance abuse prevention & treatment, intensive legal education, and an individualized restorative justice plan.
Annually, STOP SHORT of Addiction serves over 250 youth and 400 family members.
89% of our youth are successfully diverted from the legal system for at least a year.

Bilingual, bicultural therapists administer the program with assistance from trained legal experts, the Sheriff’s Coroner, and local law enforcement narcotics officers. Guest speakers are provided by the Youth Guidance Center and Volunteers on Parole. Program services are offered in both English and Spanish, and provide youth and their families with:

Clinical Intake (2 hours)
Through the clinical intake assessment, valuable information is gathered on the participant’s drug history, emotional stability, at-risk behaviors, family dynamics and school functioning.

Substance Abuse Treatment Sessions (12 hours)
Three program sessions provide legal education, critical information in respect to parent’s legal rights/responsibilities and juvenile laws, healthy communication and coping skills to help maintain a drug-free lifestyle, group therapy sessions, and educational materials on drug and alcohol use.

Highlights include visiting an actual courtroom where incarcerated minors discuss how delinquent behavior and drug use led them to criminal activity and incarceration, a presentation from the county coroner illustrating the biological and psychological effects of drug abuse and addiction, and a panel of recovered teens that discuss making the choice to stay drug free. To encourage accountability, an individualized restorative justice plan is also developed for each youth (including financial restitution, victim apology letters, and community service hours).

Exit Plan: If needed, case management and referral services are available to link youth and families to additional substance abuse treatment and behavioral health services.
External evaluations have proven that STOP SHORT of Addiction makes a measurable difference in the lives of the youth we serve. Formal recidivism studies conducted by the Orange County Probation Department show that 82% of our youth are successfully diverted from the legal system for at least a year. In addition:

  1. 95% of youth participants remain drug free at least six months after program completion
  2. 89% of parents report increased knowledge of drugs and addiction
  3. 93% of youth report being more aware of the dangers of drug use
  4. 85% of youth report having changed their relationships with drug/alcohol using friends

In 2004, Project Youth OC expanded STOP SHORT of Addiction to include culturally competent Spanish-language services. These services provide up to 12 weeks of Brief Strategic Family Therapy (BSFT), as needed, and as resources allow. BSFT is an evidence-based treatment model, developed by the Center for Family Studies at the University of Miami. BSFT provides counseling services that have been proven effective in treating early drug use, dysfunctional family relationships, conduct problems, and associations with antisocial peers, all of which are recogn2017 OCBF STOP SHORT of Addiction Brochureized risk factors for drug addiction.

Outcomes include:

  1. Children: improved self-concept; reduced conduct and emotional problems
  2. Adolescents: reduced drug use, conduct problems, and antisocial peer relationships
  3. Families: improved family functioning


Recidivism studies of juveniles who participated in Project Youth OC’s diversion programs (SHORTSTOP, Programa SHORTSTOP, and STOP SHORT of Addiction – English and Spanish versions) prove that the programs work to keep youth from further involvement in the criminal justice system. The basis for these studies is to determine if the youth we serve are referred to probation for a new law violation within a year of completing our programs.

Tracking approximately 961 youth for a year, results from a 2012-2014 Recidivism Study showed that youth who pass Project Youth OC’s diversion programs are less likely to have a referral to probation in the year following their program completion than youth who fail the program. One-year referral rates for these program completers averaged 7%. By contrast, the one-year referral rates for the program failures averaged over 25%.

These results continue to underscore Project Youth OC’s positive outcomes with the at-risk youth who successfully complete Project Youth OC’s early intervention programs.

Why We Offer This Program

Substance abuse continues to be a significant threat to the health and safety of our community. Currently, 63% of 11th graders in Orange County report using alcohol and/or drugs, 29% say that they have driven a car while drinking, and 46% have been a passenger in a car with someone that is drinking.  All youth are potentially at risk for substance abuse, but our Latino youth population is particularly vulnerable. While Latinos represent 42% of Orange County’s youth, they account for 57% of the youth in substance abuse treatment, 61% of the youth accessing county mental health services, 86% of teen mothers, 69% of high school dropouts, 89% of youth gang members and 67% of youth probationers (Conditions of Children in Orange County, 2013).

Substance use is linked with a range of serious social, emotional, and health problems, one being an increased likelihood that youth will come in contact with the juvenile justice system. This is supported by the fact that the legal system accounts for over 34% of the youth in Orange County that are referred to substance abuse treatment. Once youth have had contact with the juvenile justice system, they have a significantly greater chance of being incarcerated as an adult.

Get Started

Referrals to the STOP SHORT of Addiction programs (English & Spanish versions) are most commonly from local law enforcement agencies, schools, and other community-based organizations.  If you would like additional information on how to make a referral and/or verify if the program is appropriate for you, contact Martha Veliz, at (714) 480-1925, ext. 119 or


  • Orange County youth aged 10 to 17
  • Those who have come in contact with the criminal justice system
  • Those using drugs and/or alcohol
  • Parental participation is mandatory
Manny Gutierrez
Associate Director
714.480.1925, ext. 114
Martha Veliz
Program Manager
714.480.1925, ext. 119
Isabel Reyes
Program Coordinator
714.480.1925, ext. 118
Guadalupe Campos
Case Manager
714.480.1925, ext. 104