Home > Brief strategic family therapy (BSFT) for young people in treatment for non-opioid drug use.

Lindstrøm, Maia and Skovbo Rasmussen, Pernille and Kowalski, Krystyna and Filges, Trine and Klint Jørgensen, Anne Marie (2013) Brief strategic family therapy (BSFT) for young people in treatment for non-opioid drug use. Campbell Systematic Reviews, 9, (1), pp. 1-95. https://doi.org/10.4073/csr.2013.7.

External website: https://campbellcollaboration.org/better-evidence/...

Youth drug use is a severe problem worldwide. This review focuses on a treatment for non-opioid drugs such as cannabis, amphetamines, ecstasy and cocaine, which are strongly associated with a range of health and social problems. Brief Strategic Family Therapy (BSFT) is a manual-based family therapy approach concerned with identifying and ameliorating patterns of interaction in the family system that are presumed to be directly related to the youth’s drug usage. BSFT relies primarily on structural family theory (i.e. how the structure of the family influences the youth’s behavior) and strategic family theory (i.e. treatment methods are problem-focused and pragmatic). 

Author’s conclusion: There is insufficient firm evidence to allow conclusions to be drawn on the effect of BSFT on non-opioid drug use in young people. While additional research is needed, there is currently no evidence that BSFT treatment reduces the drug use or improves family functioning for young non-opioid drug users compared to other treatments4. The review provides us with mixed findings: on one hand, BSFT does not seem to have better or worse effects on drug use frequency and family functioning than community treatment programs, group treatment, or minimum contact comparisons, but has positive effects on treatment retention compared to control conditions4, and longer retention in treatment has been identified as a consistent predictor of a favorable outcome from drug use treatment. Although the possibility remains that the length of follow up in the included studies was insufficient to detect significant changes, it should be noted that the evidence we found was limited, both in terms of the number of studies and in their quality.

The aim of this systematic review was to explore what is known about the effectiveness of BSFT for reducing drug use in young people who use non-opioid drugs. The information currently available does not provide a sufficient basis for drawing conclusions about actual outcomes and impacts. Consequently, no substantive conclusion about the effectiveness of BSFT can be made, and we can neither support nor reject the BSFT treatment approach examined in this review. There is a need for well-designed randomized controlled trials in this area. New trials should report their results clearly and include long-term follow-up to allow the tracking of effects after treatment cessation.


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