Group work intervention with adolescents who are harmfully involved with substances and who are affected by a parent's substance use

Thumbnail Image
Bartley, Ken
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
A review of the literature states substance use causes significant harm to adolescents who abuse substances. The research literature states parental substance abuse impacts negatively on the affect of their children. Adolescents, through modelling parental behaviours and attitudes, use substances to cope with feelings. An intervention that focuses on awareness of the family dynamics of substance abuse, parental attitudes and behaviours, and adolescent support networks, has had a moderating effect on adolescent substance use. The practicum involves two twelve-session group interventions with the adolescent. The goal of the adolescent intervention was to raise the awareness of the family dynamics, offer support, and to plan healthier coping strategies. Family trees, life lines, and coping exercises were a few methods used to meet these goals. The parents were involved in a separate group session to provide education, parental support, and offer services to them. The evaluation tools used to measure change were, collateral information, Profile of Mood States (POMS), and the Client Satisfaction Questionnaire. The clinical implications of the practicum were as follows: parental substance use elicits many feelings; the homogenous nature of the groups furthered the education around the roles in the family and the methods used to cope. An unexpected clinical issue was the extent of the physical violence experienced not only in the family system,but also in the day to day lives of the adolescent. The adolescent group members felt a great deal of satisfaction during the intervention in addressing their concerns. A group intervention with both the adolescent and parents was an effective first step in addressing adolescent substance abuse within families.