Glasgow youngsters with addiction problems will be the first in the UK to benefit from a new form of treatment which involves the whole family.
Developed in America by the University of Miami, the treatment involves family therapy sessions and other family involvement techniques in addition to traditional methods to improve outcomes for young people with a range of addictions.
Experts from Miami have been training 10 members of staff from the Glasgow Addictions Service, a partnership between NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and Glasgow City Council.Once they complete their training in February this year they will be able to offer the innovative therapy to vulnerable young people and their families.
Professor Cindy Rowe from the University of Miami is currently in Glasgow training therapists. She said: "This type of comprehensive family-based treatment has already proved successful in the USA and is now seen internationally as an effective tool in reducing adolescent drug use and other psychological, family and social problems."
Cindy added: "We saw this collaboration with the Glasgow Addiction Services and the Centre for Drug Misuse as a great opportunity to test the dissemination potential of MDFT and address the problem of substance misuse among young people in Glasgow."
The Glasgow Addiction Service is looking to include some 40 youngsters and their families in the pilot and if successful the treatment, known as Multi-dimensional Family Therapy (MDFT), will be further rolled out across Glasgow.
Gemma McNeill, Senior Officer with the Glasgow Addiction Service, has been overseeing the pilot.She said: “Glasgow was chosen as the pilot venue because the Scottish Executive and the University of Miami were confidant that the Glasgow Addiction Service are committed to developing services which are evidence-based.The fact we will soon be able to add MDFT to the range of interventions offered to young people will keep Glasgow at the forefront of drug treatment and support.”
The University of Glasgow’s Centre for Drug Misuse Research will be researching the treatment and assessing its effectiveness.This work is being led by Professor Marina Barnard, she said: “MDFT represents a significant opportunity for us in Glasgow to develop a tried and tested means of helping young people and their families to find a way out of the misery caused by entrenched drug problems. Working with families rather than just the young person is challenging for services however the size and severity of the problem we face here underlines the importance of ensuring we provide the best interventions there are.”
Marie McGuire is a senior addiction worker with young people in the city and volunteered to take part in the training.Marie said: “Becoming trained in MDFT was something I was very keen to do.Having worked in this field for some 26 years I have learnt that when a family believes that things can change and that they all have a role to play things can turn around much more quickly.
“Our experience is that substance abuse amongst young people is not stand alone. It affects their education, their relationships and increases the likelihood of anti-social behaviour.MDFT will empower families to unite and see themselves as part of the solution and not the problem.Once families buy into this concept they can then take action to improve their son or daughter’s life.”
Scotland is one of only five European countries to be exploring Multi-disciplinary Family Therapy with the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany and France also in the process of training staff.
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