Behavioral family counseling for substance abuse: a treatment development pilot study

Addict Behav. 2010 Jan;35(1):1-6. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2009.07.003. Epub 2009 Aug 8.


Substance-dependent patients (N=29) living with a family member other than a spouse were randomly assigned to equally intensive treatments consisting of either (a) Behavioral Family Counseling (BFC) plus Individual-Based Treatment (IBT) or (b) IBT alone. Outcome data were collected at baseline, post-treatment, and at 3- and 6-month follow-up. BFC patients remained in treatment significantly longer than IBT patients. BFC patients improved significantly from baseline at all time periods on all outcomes studied, and had a medium effect size reflecting better primary outcomes of increased abstinence and reduced substance use than IBT patients. For secondary outcomes of reduced negative consequences and improved relationship adjustment, both BFC and IBT patients improved significantly and to an equivalent extent. The present results show BFC is a promising method for retaining patients in treatment, increasing abstinence, and reducing substance use. These results also provide support for larger scale, randomized trials examining the efficacy of behavioral family counseling for patients living with family members beyond spouses.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Behavior Therapy / methods*
  • Counseling*
  • Family Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Pilot Projects
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / therapy*
  • Young Adult