Family interventions for drug and alcohol misuse: is there a best practice?

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Abstract

Purpose of review

Recent developments in research and practice have highlighted the effectiveness of family interventions in substance misuse treatment. The present paper will critically review studies of family approaches published over the past 12 months, assess the current state of this field and suggest future directions.

Recent findings

Family interventions lead to positive outcomes for both misusers and family members. Some recent interventions have widened the focus also to include other members of the user's social networks and have focused on a range of treatment goals.

Summary

An increasingly robust evidence base supports family-focused and social network-focused interventions in substance misuse treatment. Recent studies have continued to show that family and network approaches either match or improve outcomes when compared with individual interventions. Research needs (and is starting) to consider a broader set of outcomes relevant to family and network interventions, besides simply making an impact on substance use. The major challenge involves implementation of family approaches in routine service provision; interventions with most evidence supporting them are not used routinely in practice. Research studies and policy initiatives need to focus on dissemination of family approaches and their integration into treatment services.

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