Central Asian Countries Participate in the Piloting of the Family Therapy Package of UNODC

Youths with drug use disorders (DUDs), including those in contact with or at risk of contact with criminal justice system, and their families are facing grave challenges without appropriate support and access to effective treatment and rehabilitation services, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. Hence, UNODC, in close collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) and leading experts in the field of family therapy, with funding support from the Government of Japan, is developing a science-informed, skills-based, and practical treatment training package with elements of family therapy for youths with DUDs, including those in contact with or at risk of contact with the criminal justice system (UNFT: United Nations family-based treatment for youths with DUDs).

As a part of the development, the Regional Pilot Training on the UNODC family therapy package for youth with drug use disorders and their families (UNFT) took place for narcology, social work and psychology specialists from the Central Asian states from 26-30 November 2018 in Tashkent.

"The teenage years are a critical window of vulnerability to substance use disorders, because the brain is still developing, and some brain areas are less mature than others. Many factors influence whether an adolescent tries drugs, including the availability of drugs within the neighbourhood, community, and school and whether the adolescent's friends are using them. The family environment is also important: Violence, physical or emotional abuse, mental illness, or drug use in the household increase the likelihood an adolescent will use drugs." - noted Ms. Ashita Mittal, UNODC Regional representative for Central Asia, opening the training. 

"Together we would like to pilot the training materials on the main components for an internationally relevant package for family-based treatment in support of adolescents with drug use disorders. Given the preventive potential family therapy has, in a parallel discussion which we will begin at this meeting, we will also explore the preventive potential of family therapy for the prevention of violent extremist behaviour." - she added.

Over 30 specialists participated in the piloting and field-testing of the UNFT. They could share their inputs on improvement and cultural adaptation of the pilot version of the UNFT training curriculum.

It is expected that the government agencies, academic institutions and drug dependence treatment service providers will play a prominent role in knowledge transfer and the implementation of evidence-based practices.

"Today we talk about how to engage with people, how to be non-judgmental, how to be not over directive and to trust that there is a process in the family, that with a little bit of support, the family can reach a better place." - said Ms. Anja Busse, Programme Officer of the Prevention, Treatment & Rehabilitation Section, UNODC Headquarter in Vienna, the training facilitator.

Being part of the TreatNet training strategy, the training package is being piloted through time-limited regional trainings with treatment professionals in Central Asia, South East Asia and South Asia to receive further feedback before wider dissemination.The event is generously funded by the Government of Japan.

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