Network therapy for addiction: a model for office practice.

Research paper by M M Galanter

Indexed on: 01 Jan '93Published on: 01 Jan '93Published in: The American journal of psychiatry


Individual therapists in office practice are often considered to have limited effectiveness in treating alcohol and drug dependence. In this article the author describes network therapy, an approach developed to assure greater success in such treatment. It uses psychodynamic and behavioral therapy while engaging the patient in a support network composed of family members and peers. A cognitive-behavioral model of addiction, based on the role of conditioned withdrawal in relapse, is described. Related techniques for securing abstinence are then reviewed; they augment individual psychotherapy to help patients avoid relapse caused by the affective and environmental cues that precipitate drug seeking. The role of social cohesiveness as a vehicle for engaging patients in treatment is outlined next, along with a related technique for enhancing an addicted patient's commitment to the therapy. This is done by using the patient's family and peers as a therapeutic network to join the patient at intervals in therapy sessions. The network is managed by the therapist to provide cohesiveness and support, undermine denial, and promote compliance with treatment. The author presents applications of the network technique designed to sustain abstinence and describes means of stabilizing members' involvement. Applications of network therapy to ambulatory detoxification, disulfiram and naltrexone administration, relapse prevention, and contingency contracting are reviewed.