ABSTRACT

During the past four decades, the results of numerous clinical studies have demonstrated the efficacy of couple- and family-based treatment approaches for substance use disorders. Meta-analytic reviews of randomized clinical trials have consistently found that, compared to individual-based interventions, partner- and family-involved treatments result in reduced substance use and improved marital and family functioning (Powers, Vedel, & Emmelkamp, 2008; Stanton & Shadish, 1997). In response to these findings, the joint commission standards for accrediting substance abuse treatment programs in the United States require that an adult family member who lives with an identified substance-abusing patient be included, at minimum, in the initial assessment of the treatment process (Brown, O’Farrell, Maisto, Boys, & Suchinsky, 1997). Because relationship problems and substance use disorders so frequently co-occur, it would be difficult to find clinicians who specialize in the treatment of substance use disorders or relationship problems who have not had to address both sets of issues concurrently (either with the client individually or in the context of the client’s larger family system).