There is strong evidence that family-based skills training programs result in positive outcomes for the prevention of drug and alcohol use for adolescents. When you think about it, families are people “factories” and family environments impact youth substance use. Elements of family life that have been found to be major risk factors for mental health and substance use problems include: lack of bonding with a parent or significant adult; chaotic home environment; ineffective parenting; the substance use of other family members; as well as social isolation and inconsistent discipline or expression of values. Another critical factor is generational acculturation to the American lifestyle that can lead to increased family conflict and lack of family attachment.
Family interventions have been shown to be the most effective prevention and treatment interventions for adolescent substance abuse and other negative developmental outcomes in many different research studies. They’re also cost effective because all family members learn and practice new skills to improve long-term impact on positive youth developmental outcomes. Family prevention interventions benefit not just only the enrolled child or adolescent, but the whole family – parents, siblings, extended family members living at home, and also caretakers such as foster parents. And while family intervention is generally implemented to improve one specific problem behavior such as substance use, such programs impact a broad range of other adolescent and adult outcomes, including improved school and job performance, mental health, health, and goal attainment. That’s one of the major advantages of family programs over youth-only school or community-targeted prevention programs for substance use.
L.A. CADA uses the Strengthening Families approach for family skills intervention. This is a research-informed approach proven to increase protective factors like family strengths, enhance child development, and reduce the likelihood of child abuse and neglect. If a family you know would like to participate, contact our Youth and Families department at (562) 562-348-0083.