Columbia University

Technology Ventures

Drug abuse prevention and health promotion software for adolescent girls in public housing and their mothers

Technology #cu13148

Lead Inventor: Steven Schinke M.S.W., Ph.D.

Tech Ventures Reference: IR CU13148

This technology is a health promotion software program targeting adolescent girls in public housing and their relationships with their mothers. The goals of this software are to increase physical activity, prevent drug abuse, and improve nutrition for high-risk adolescent girls. Additionally the program is designed to improve the mother-daughter relationships as it can be utilized in the home. Mothers and their daughters complete a 3-session program including session topics such as: healthy relationships, healthy bodies, and healthy minds. These topics are all designed to strengthen the bond between mother and daughter and their ability to improve health for adolescent girls has been supported by controlled data studies.

Software based abuse prevention and health promotion offer a more affordable, versatile, and effective method of treatment for adolescent girls.

The MADTalk software program has been shown in a one-year study to significantly reduce risk factors associated with substance abuse. Software has the advantage of being highly dispersible, far less expensive than comparable therapist-based treatment, and allows users privacy to conduct therapy in their home or other place of choosing. The software is specifically tailored towards mother daughter-relationships, thus incorporating family involvement at a price, labor, and time commitment considerably lower then available alternatives.


  • Substance abuse prevention in adolescent girls residing in public housing.
  • Mother-daughter bond strengthening for adolescent girls in all situations.
  • With some altering, software could be generalized to be useful for substance abuse prevention for all adolescent girls.
  • Software could be improved to include methods of improving father-daughter relationships, or sibling relationships, and other family relationships. *Software could eventually be sold as an app or for fee download software, used on mobile devices and computers worldwide for those without access to treatment centers or otherwise inaccessible.
  • Eventually through data collection and further research, the software could be extended to helping at risk males.


  • More affordable than traditional therapy.
  • More dispersible and far-reaching than traditional therapy.
  • Custom tailored to specific population, yet also versatile enough to be easily altered or updated to fit other groups in the future.
  • Can be optimized for mobile devices.
  • Allows for privacy and home use.
  • Far less expensive, less time commitment, and less labor intensive family involvement in therapy.
  • Software can record data thus providing a means to greatly improve effectiveness.
  • Can be easily updated as additional data comes in from users.

Patent information:

Patent Pending

Licensing Status: Available for licensing and sponsored research support

Related Publications:

Schinke, S. P., L. Fang, et al. (2009). “Preventing substance use among adolescent girls: 1-year outcomes of a computerized, mother-daughter program.” Addict Behav 34(12): 1060-1064.