Collaboration Between UB Institute and Amsterdam Experts to Test Drug Treatment Model Originated in Buffalo

By Kathleen Weaver

Release Date: October 27, 2003 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A joint project between the University at Buffalo's Research Institute on Addictions (RIA) and the Jellinek Clinic in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, will examine how behavioral couples therapy (BCT) works for cocaine-abusing patients across cultures.

The collaboration was solidified at the U.S.-Netherlands Bi-National Workshop on Drug Abuse and Addiction held Sept. 27 in Amsterdam. Matching funds of $194,000 from the National Institute on Drug Addictions (NIDA) in Maryland and its parallel source, ZonMw in Amsterdam, will support study of behavioral couples therapy for cocaine-abusing patients.

BCT has been studied in the U.S. extensively by William Fals-Stewart, Ph.D., a senior research scientist at RIA and research associate professor in the Department of Psychology in the UB College of Arts and Sciences, and has been shown to reduce alcohol and drug abuse, and improve marital relationships. It also has been shown to have positive effects on children of substance-abusing parents even though the children do not participate in the treatment.

Fals-Stewart's co-investigator in Amsterdam is Paul Emmelkamp, Ph.D., a renowned European psychologist and expert in the study of anxiety, depression and spouse-aided treatment of alcoholism. He has worked with treatment protocols that improve individual lives, but hopes to expand to systemic treatments, such as BCT, which have ramifications for the whole family.

"The big issue for both cultures," according to Fals-Stewart, "is finding a way to help children in homes with drug abusing-parents to feel safe and grow without developing similar drug problems."

Fals-Stewart noted that although drug use is viewed differently in the U.S. and the Netherlands, concerns that are shared between the two countries include the impact of substance abuse on marriage, domestic violence and children in these families. In the U.S., BCT has been shown to be a powerful intervention and preventive measure. When proven successful bi-nationally, the intent is to implement programs with multiple sites in both countries.

"In this country," Fals-Stewart explained, "the leading treatment for substance abuse has complete abstinence as its goal. We also tend to view addiction as a disease. Twelve-step programs are strongly supported and promoted as an adjunct to formal treatment."

"In contrast," he added, "in the Netherlands, only two or three 12-step program sites exist. The approach there treats substance abuse as a behavioral disorder and clinicians, as well as the population-at-large, view controlled use as an acceptable goal. However, experts there do share a sense that homes of substance abusers can be chaotic, wives are often distressed and children may be in danger."

Scientists at UB's Research Institute on Addictions have been advancing the knowledge, prevention, and treatment of addictions since 1970.