Since children whose parents abuse drugs are exposed to numerous factors that increase the likelihood of future drug abuse by the children, this article reports on a study that examined whether intensive family focused interventions with methadone treated parents reduced drug use by parents and prevented children from initiating drug use.
Parents were randomly assigned to intervention and control conditions and assessed at baseline, post-test, and 6 and 12 months following the intervention. Children were also assessed at baseline and at 6 months and 12 months after the intervention. Two methadone clinics in Seattle, Washington were involved in the study. Study participants were 144 methadone-treated parents and their 178 children, who ranged in age from 3 to 14 years old. The experimental intervention supplemented methadone treatment with 33 sessions of family training combined with 9 months of home case management. Families in the control condition received no supplemental services. Parent measures included relapse and skills, measures of family management practices, deviant peer networks, domestic conflict, and drug use. Child measures included measures of rules, family attachment, parental involvement, school attachment and misbehavior, negative peers, substance use, and delinquency. The study found that 1 year after the family skills training, there were significant positive changes among parents, especially in the areas of parent skills, parent drug use, deviant peers, and family management. Few changes were noted in the behavior or attitudes of the children.