New research study: Adaptation and feasibility study of a family and social network intervention to help young people who misuse alcohol and drugs

Research has shown that the family has a considerable impact on young people’s drinking and drug use. Interventions involving the family and wider social networks have proven successful in helping young people to deal with substance abuse problems. Social Behaviour and Network Therapy (SBNT) is an evidence based approach to help adult alcohol and drug users and their families and it has been developed and tested in Birmingham. A study, funded by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Health Technology Assessment (HTA) Programme, will adapt and further develop the SBNT approach to be used with young people as part of a new grant for £528.563.

Alex Copello

The research team, led by Professor Alex Copello (pictured, top right) at the University of Birmingham, will carry out an adaptation of the SBNT approach to support young people aged 12-18 and their families, and this will be followed by a clinical trial in Birmingham and Newcastle services. The family-based intervention will be adapted to support young people aged 12-18. The research team believe that SBNT can be successfully adapted for young people as a clinically and cost effective intervention. As part of the study, young people who have previous experience of drug and alcohol services will be involved in the adaptation and provide insight into the acceptability and effectiveness of this new approach.

Once adapted, the intervention will be tested in a pilot clinical trial with young people to compare the effect of the SBNT approach with existing services that are not family-focused. It is hoped that the approach will show a reduction in the amount of alcohol and drugs that the young people use after they have received the intervention. The study will also measure other aspects that affect the young people, such as mental health, family factors, crime and the use of other services. The research team will assess whether the intervention reduces the use of these other services, and is therefore more cost-effective. The research team was awarded funding as a result of the HTA commissioning brief “Family based interventions for young people who misuse alcohol and/or other substances”.