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A family-oriented therapy program for youths with substance abuse: long-term outcomes related to relapse and academic or social status

Authors Wang L, Lu S, Chong M, Chou W, Hsieh Y, Tsai T, Chen C, Lee Y

Received 27 January 2016

Accepted for publication 16 February 2016

Published 30 March 2016 Volume 2016:12 Pages 699—706


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Wai Kwong Tang

Liang-Jen Wang,1 Shing-Fang Lu,1 Mian-Yoon Chong,2 Wen-Jiun Chou,1 Yu-Lian Hsieh,1 Tong-Ning Tsai,1 Ching Chen,2 Yi-Hsuan Lee1

Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 2Department of Psychiatry, Kaohsiung Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Chang Gung University College of Medicine, Kaohsiung, Taiwan

Objective: The abuse of illegal substances by youths in Taiwan has become a major public health issue. This study explores the outcomes (relapse rate and academic or social status) of a family-oriented therapy program conducted for substance-using youths who were referred by a judge to participate in it.
Methods: The present study includes 121 participants categorized into three groups: 36 youths underwent a weekly ten-session outpatient motivational enhancement psychotherapy (MEP) group program; 41 youths participated in a program that combined the aforementioned MEP program with an additional weekly ten-session parenting skill training (PST) program for their guardians (MEP + PST group); and 44 adolescents who received standard supervision by the court served as the control group. All participants were followed-up for a maximum of 2 years.
Results: Of the 121 participants (mean age: 16.1±1.1 years), 33.1% relapsed into substance use during the follow-up period. The probability of relapse did not differ significantly between the MEP group (36.1%) and the control group (40.9%), but the youths in the MEP + PST group (22.0%) were at a lower risk of relapse than the control group participants (adjusted hazard ratio =0.48, 95% confidence interval [CI] =0.21–1.09). By the end of the study follow-up period, participants in both the MEP group and the MEP + PST group were more likely to be attending school (MEP group: adjusted odds ratio [aOR] =6.61, 95% CI =1.60–27.35; MEP + PST group: aOR =8.57, 95% CI =1.94–37.82) or employed (MEP group: aOR =7.75, 95% CI =1.95–30.75; MEP + PST group: aOR =7.27, 95% CI =1.76–29.97), when compared to the control group.
Conclusion: This study revealed that a family-oriented treatment approach may be a more effective option for preventing youths’ relapsing into substance abuse. In comparison to individuals who received standard supervision by the court, those who received MEP experienced a better school attendance or social outcome over the follow-up period.

Keywords: substance abuse, psychotherapy, family, juvenile delinquency, longitudinal study

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