Introduction: Drug and alcohol use disproportionately affect Hispanic youth. Despite these disparities, few empirically supported preventive interventions are available to ameliorate this public health concern among Hispanic youth. This study examined the effects of Familias Unidas, relative to Community Practice, in reducing past 90-day substance use, alcohol and marijuana dependence, and having sex while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Additionally, this study explored whether Familias Unidas' effects varied by environmental context, namely parental stress and social support for parents.
Methods: A total of 242 delinquent Hispanic youth aged 12-17 years and their primary caregivers were randomized to either Familias Unidas or Community Practice and assessed at three time points.
Results: Familias Unidas was efficacious in reducing past 90-day substance use, illicit drug use, and in reducing the proportion of youth with an alcohol dependence diagnosis, relative to Community Practice. Results also showed a reduction in the proportion of youth who reported having sex while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. No differences between conditions were observed in past 90-day alcohol use or marijuana dependence. Intervention effects on illicit drug use and alcohol dependence varied by environmental context. For example, Familias Unidas was most efficacious for adolescents with parents exhibiting high stress and lower levels of social support.
Conclusions: Familias Unidas was efficacious in reducing some drug and alcohol related outcomes. The findings also support the concept of targeting family-based interventions, such as Familias Unidas, for adolescents with parents exhibiting high stress and low levels of social support.
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