Blending Perspectives and Building Common Ground. Effective Parenting and Family Interventions for Substance Abusers


Over the past twenty years, a number of behavioral parent training, family skills training, family therapy and family support programs have been found effective in improving behavioral and emotional outcomes for both parents and children (Ashery et al, 1999; Kumpfer & Alder, in press) and with children from diverse cultures (Kumpfer & Alvarado, 1995).  Over 50 effective, research-based models of parenting interventions have been identified by SAMHSA/CSAP in their expert review of the family-based intervention research literature (SAMHSA/CSAP, 1998).  The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) also conducted two expert reviews over the past then years of their Strengthening Families Initiative and have identified 34 model parenting and family programs which are being disseminated though conferences, training of trainers, technical assistance and mini-grants.  For a review of these programs see Kumpfer and Alvarado (1998), or program descriptions on their web site:

A number of these parenting interventions have been specifically tested in federally-funded research projects with drug abusing parents.  For instance, the Strengthening Families Program for substance abusing parents has been fount to significantly improve the parent's parenting skills, parenting self-efficacy, depression, stress and drug, while also improving the children's emotional and behavioral status (Kumpfer, Molgaard, & Spoth, 1996).  This program has been culturally adapted for different ethnic populations and field tested with similar positive results with five different investigators.  A version for rural families has been developed and found effective in reducing alcohol use (Spoth & Redmond, 1996; Spoth, Redmond & Lepper in press).

Despite these positive research findings, few substance abuse treatment programs offer these or other research-based and effective parenting programs to their clients.  A great gap exists between scientifically valid prevention and treatment programs and the commercially marketed but untested programs being implemented by practitioners.  To improve the dissemination and adoption of science-based parenting and family support interventions, SAMHSA's Center for Substance Abuse Prevention is investing $10 million in grants to over 100 communities to select, implement and evaluate their choice of over 50 research-based models.