Howard A Liddle, Gayle A Dakof

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

140 Scopus citations


Drug abuse is an enormous public health problem with consequences not only for individuals using drugs but also for families, communities, and society. Moreover, research evidence and clinical experience agree that drug abuse is one of the more difficult problems to treat. Despite considerable research on the connection between family factors and drug use, and the existence of family therapy models for drug abuse, comparatively few controlled efficacy studies have been conducted. This article presents a critical review of controlled treatment outcome research in the area of family therapy for drug abuse in both adults and adolescents. A number of studies from different clinical research groups demonstrate that different versions of family intevention can engage and retain drug users and their families in treatment, significantly reduce drug use and other related problem behaviors, and enhace particular domains of prosocial functioning. Moreover, a smaller number of comparative efficacy studies have shown family therapy to be more effective than nonfamily therapies. Family therapy of adolescent drug abuse is more developed at present than family therapy of adult drug abuse. Although the results of the reviewed studies are promising, a blanket confirmation of family therapy's efficacy for drug abuse cannot be made at this time because of the relatively small number of studies and the noted methodological limitations of the studies published to date. Nonetheless, substantial progress in this clinical research area has occurred, and if research and funding support continue or can expand, significant breakthroughs in the treamtment of drug abuse with family‐based treatments are possible.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)511-543
Number of pages33
JournalJournal of Marital and Family Therapy
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1995
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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