Vienna, 4 December 2023 - “We kept trying to provide support and he did not care,” said Sumiyati, mother of Prima, a young man in Indonesia who had problems related to substance use.
Sumiyati and her husband, Bawarnas, are selling porridge in the streets of Jakarta, Indonesia, to make a living for their family. With little resources to spare, the couple was at a loss to help Prima, who had started to develop a substance use disorder. “We kept praying for him.”
One day, however, Prima and his parents enrolled in a Treatnet Family service session, developed by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and – in this instance – implemented by Karisma in Indonesia.
Treatnet Family is an outpatient programme that supports adolescents and youth with substance use disorders and their families through treatment based on elements of family therapy. Treatnet Family has proven to reduce adolescent substance use and increase family cohesion and mental health.
Adolescence represents a time of increased vulnerability of young people to different influences. It often marks the onset of risk behaviours, which may include substance use and delinquency. Vulnerability to initiating substance use and developing substance use disorders – as well as other problem behaviours – is associated with a number of biopsychosocial risk and protective factors.
Drug and other substance use disorders are often associated with co-morbid health disorders such as anxiety, depression and disruptive behaviour disorders. Especially in low- and middle-income countries, adolescents with drug and other substance use disorders and their families lack or have very limited access to effective treatment for drug use disorders.
Treatnet Family adapted elements of evidence-based family therapy programmes and was designed with the needs of low-resource settings in mind. Since 2019, it has been implemented successfully in 33 countries, with 300 practitioners trained in 2023 alone.
Treatnet Family’s feasibility study in Indonesia showed positive impacts, including reduced alcohol use among young people with substance-using problems; a reduced number of adolescents who smoked cigarettes and cannabis or used amphetamines; and reduced contacts of youths with friends who consumed substances and those who participated in problematic behaviours. Parents and family members also reported a significant decrease in mental health problems and positive changes in adolescents’ behaviours.
In Indonesia, Treatnet Family enjoys the strong support of the National Narcotics Board. The country designated the programme as a national priority and has made it available to families nationwide.
For Sumiyati and Bawarnas, Prima’s mother and father, the programme taught them how to address stressful family situations with their son through open communication and contact. “We learnt to spend time together and listen,” says Sumiyati.
They also learned how to share their thoughts and feelings in a different way as a family, including challenges Prima might have faced during his time in treatment and recovery, especially times of cravings and when he was at risk for relapse.
As a result, the family noted a change in Prima’s attitude and behaviour. Prima started to listen more to advice given by his parents, Sumiyati says.
The whole family now spends time together more regularly and hopes that other families that experience similar problems around adolescent substance use may be given the same opportunity to be part of the Treatnet Family programme.
As for Prima himself, he shared his new, family-oriented goals after experiencing Treatnet Family. “My dream is simple,” he says. “I want to become an employee at an office so that I can support my parents so that they do not need to sell porridge anymore.”
Treatnet Family is part of UNODC’s Treatnet training package that works to increase the level of knowledge and skills of professionals working in the field of substance use disorders and was developed in response to Commission on Narcotics Drugs resolution 58/2 “Supporting treatment and care for children and young people with substance use disorders”. Learn more about Treatnet here.
Treatnet Family Brochure – English
Treatnet Family Brochure – Indonesian
Final Report on Treatnet Family Feasibility Study on Training on Elements of Family Therapy for Adolescents with Substance Use Disorders including those in Contact with the Criminal Justice System in Jakarta, Indonesia
Treatnet Family Indonesia - Prima Video