Behavioral couples treatment of alcohol and drug use disorders: current status and innovations

Clin Psychol Rev. 1998 Sep;18(6):689-711. doi: 10.1016/s0272-7358(98)00025-7.


Research suggests that Behavioral Couples Therapy (BCT), tailored to treat alcohol problems, produces significant reduction in alcohol consumption and improvement in marital functioning. Having established basic clinical protocols for Alcohol Behavioral Couples Therapy (ABCT) and provided support for their efficacy, clinical researchers around the country continue to develop and study new applications of the basic ABCT treatment models, such as adding relapse prevention or Alcoholics Anonymous components. Recent research supporting the heterogeneity in the population of individuals with alcohol problems has prompted some researchers on ABCT to consider additional adaptations of the treatment models for specific subgroups of alcoholics, and for particular individual and couples characteristics. Adaptation of ABCT to treat new populations such as drug abusers, female alcoholics, and problem drinkers is under investigation. The current article provides an overview of theoretical and clinical aspects of ABCT, and research on efficacy of the basic model and on areas of innovation and adaptation to new populations. Directions for future research on ABCT are suggested.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Alcohol-Related Disorders / therapy
  • Behavior Therapy / methods
  • Behavior Therapy / standards
  • Behavior Therapy / trends*
  • Behaviorism
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / standards
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / trends
  • Conflict, Psychological
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Couples Therapy / methods
  • Couples Therapy / standards
  • Couples Therapy / trends*
  • Family Health*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marriage / psychology
  • Models, Psychological
  • Patient Selection
  • Reinforcement, Psychology
  • Secondary Prevention
  • Social Support
  • Spouses / psychology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome