An evaluation of a family based drug abuse prevention program



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Texas Tech University


The purpose of this study was to design, implement, and evaluate the effectiveness of a twelve hour family drug education (FDE) program directed toward adolescent drug abusers and their families. The primary goal of the program was to reduce the use of drugs as measured by urinalyses. The secondary goals were to increase the communication and social skills identified by prior research as being instrumental in preventing or reducing drug abuse and drug-related behavior. A two group, pretest/posttest design was used to evaluate the results. Program strengths included involvement of the total family, a relatively short duration, and the inclusion of different ethnic groups.

The FDE program emphasized two main areas. The first included information concerning drug abuse including symptoms, the etiology of addiction, and family interventions. The second included the teaching of communication skills, awareness of self and others, conflict management, assertiveness, and negotiation techniques. Results were analyzed by a repeated measures analysis of covariance. The hypotheses predicted a significant decrease in drug use and increased social skills for the FDE group when compared to scores of an adolescent discussion group of equal duration. The hypotheses were not supported.

However, several means increased at posttest for both groups, possibly indicating that both approaches could be strengthened and directed toward selected populations. After controlling for ethnicity, minority group members scored competitively on several posttests measures although no special procedures were adopted for families whose first language was not English. Other control variables included gender, type of family (both parents or mother only), previous involvement with the law, referral source (juvenile probation or school administrators), and whether or not the adolescent had prior therapy. Controlling for these variables did not affect results.

Comparing the results of this study to previous studies which achieved positive results in curtailing drug abuse, leads to three recommendations for modifying the FDE program: (1) Increase the number of sessions with additional time being allotted to the practicing of the social skills emphasized in the FDE program; (2) Implement the program at an earlier life-cycle development stage; and (3) Increase the flexibility of the program by adopting a structure more closely resembling a group family therapy approach.



Family psychotherapy, Drug abuse -- Prevention, Drug abuse -- Study and teaching