Multidimensional family therapy for adolescent drug abuse: results of a randomized clinical trial

Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse. 2001 Nov;27(4):651-88. doi: 10.1081/ada-100107661.


Random assignment was made of 182 clinically referred marijuana- and alcohol-abusing adolescents to one of three treatments: multidimensional family therapy (MDFT), adolescent group therapy (AGT), and multifamily educational intervention (MEI). Each treatment represented a different theory base and treatment format. All treatments were based on a manual and were delivered on a once-a-week outpatient basis. The therapists were experienced community clinicians trained to model-specific competence prior to the study and then supervised throughout the clinical trial. A theory-based multimodal assessment strategy measured symptom changes and prosocial functioning at intake, termination, and 6 and 12 months following termination. Results indicate improvement among youths in all three treatments, with MDFT showing superior improvement overall. MDFT participants also demonstrated change at the 1-year follow-up period in the important prosocial factors of school/academic performance and family functioning as measured by behavioral ratings. Results support the efficacy of MDFT, a relatively short-term, multicomponent, multitarget, family-based intervention in significantly reducing adolescent drug abuse and facilitating adaptive and protective developmental processes.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Alcoholism / epidemiology
  • Alcoholism / rehabilitation*
  • Family Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Juvenile Delinquency / prevention & control
  • Male
  • Marijuana Abuse / epidemiology
  • Marijuana Abuse / rehabilitation*
  • Peer Group
  • Psychotherapy, Group / methods
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Outcome