Family Involvement in Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment and Recovery

Families are an important resource for young people as they journey through alcohol and other drug treatment to recovery. Many providers and policy-makers, however, do not view family member involvement as essential for successful treatment and recovery and see family as part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

Family involvement is defined by these authors as “the active engagement and participation of family members in the practice, program, and policy areas of adolescent substance abuse treatment and recovery services and support.” It is essential that families understand the disease of addiction, the process of treatment and that of recovery.

The authors highlight some lessons learned about expanding family involvement from the State Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment Coordination (SAC) grantees in the areas of practice, program and policy:

  • Service providers should welcome, engage, support and respect families “where they are.”
  • Families who provide insight and experience into adolescent and family use history can facilitate effective service planning and practice.
  • Empower families to provide valuable input for agency and program quality improvement planning.
  • Encourage family-to-family outreach and promote awareness, peer education and other support services.
  • Seek family input as part of the policy-making process.

This article is part of a special issue of Children and Youth Services Review on the RWJF-funded Reclaiming Futures program.