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Family Therapy for Drug Abuse: Review and Updates 2003–2010

Authors


  • Cynthia L. Rowe, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Center for Treatment Research on Adolescent Drug Abuse, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

  • This review is dedicated to William Fals-Stewart, PhD (1962–2010). He is gratefully acknowledged for his substantial contributions to the field of family-based drug abuse intervention research.

Address correspondence to Cynthia Rowe, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Center for Treatment Research on Adolescent Drug Abuse, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, 1425 N.W. 10th Avenue, Suite 217, Miami, Florida 33136; E-mail: crowe@med.miami.edu

Abstract

Just 15 years ago, Liddle and Dakof (Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 1995; 21, 511) concluded, based on the available evidence, that family therapy represented a “promising, but not definitive” approach for the treatment of drug problems among adolescents and adults. Seven years later, Rowe and Liddle (2003) review described considerable progress in this specialty with encouraging findings on adolescent-focused models based on rigorous methodology, as well as advances with adult-focused family-based treatments. The current review brings the field up to date with highlights from research conducted in the intervening 7 years, cross-cutting issues, recommendations for new research, and practice implications of these findings. Adolescent-focused family-based models that attend to the ecology of the teen and family show the most consistent and strongest findings in recent studies. Adult-focused models based on behavioral and systems theories of change also show strong effects with drug abusers and their families. The overarching conclusion is that family-based models are not only a viable treatment alternative for the treatment of drug abuse, but are now consistently recognized among the most effective approaches for treating both adults and adolescents with drug problems.

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