UNODC supports practitioners in Bosnia and Herzegovina in addressing drug use disorders and problematic behaviours in adolescents and their families

5-8 September 2023, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina: UNODC organized a capacity development workshop on “Treatnet Family for adolescents with drug use disorders and their families – creating societies resilient to drugs and crime” for 25 practitioners in Bosnia and Herzegovina with the kind support of the Government of Italy.

Adolescence is a critical window of vulnerability for the initiation of substance use and the onset of substance use disorders as the young person’s brain is still developing. Many factors influence whether an adolescent tries drugs, including the family environment. Adverse childhood experiences such as violence, physical or emotional abuse, mental illness, or drug use in the household increase the likelihood of an adolescent starting to use drugs.

Treatnet Family is a science-informed training package on elements of family therapy, intended to support practitioners in the health, social and criminal justice sectors who work with youths affected by drug use disorders and their families in resource limited settings. Treatnet Family is part of UNODC’s overall Treatnet training package for the treatment of drug use disorders and the initial development was supported by the People of Japan. Implementation has previously shown positive effects in reducing substance use, improving family functioning and mental health.

Treatnet Family focused on theoretical foundations and core assumptions of family therapy, the spectrum of substance use and substance use disorders and mostly on family therapy core strategies such as reframing and the phases of family therapy work. The four-day workshop provided ample opportunity for exchange between professionals and to discuss ways to address drug use disorders, particularly among youth, as well as associated challenges.

Participating substance use disorder treatment professionals from Bosnia and Herzegovina enhanced their understanding of substance use problems in a systemic perspective and in various role plays learnt to apply Treatnet Family skills and help families break negative cycles in their interactions in exploring new ways of more supportive interactions and taking care of each other.