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Drug Alcohol Depend. 2011 Dec 1;119(1-2):64-71. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2011.05.021. Epub 2011 Jun 17.

Treatment of adolescents with a cannabis use disorder: main findings of a randomized controlled trial comparing multidimensional family therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy in The Netherlands.

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Parnassia Addiction Research Centre (PARC), Brijder Addiction Treatment, Parnassia Bavo Group, The Hague, The Netherlands.



To meet the treatment needs of the growing number of adolescents who seek help for cannabis use problems, new or supplementary types of treatment are needed. We investigated whether multidimensional family therapy (MDFT) was more effective than cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) in treatment-seeking adolescents with a DSM-IV cannabis use disorder in The Netherlands.


One hundred and nine adolescents participated in a randomized controlled trial, with study assessments at baseline and at 3, 6, 9 and 12 months following baseline. They were randomly assigned to receive either outpatient MDFT or CBT, both with a planned treatment duration of 5-6 months. Main outcome measures were cannabis use, delinquent behavior, treatment response and recovery at one-year follow-up, and treatment intensity and retention.


MDFT was not found to be superior to CBT on any of the outcome measures. Adolescents in both treatments did show significant and clinically meaningful reductions in cannabis use and delinquency from baseline to one-year follow-up, with treatment effects in the moderate range. A substantial percentage of adolescents in both groups met the criteria for treatment response at month 12. Treatment intensity and retention was significantly higher in MDFT than in CBT. Post hoc subgroup analyses suggested that high problem severity subgroups at baseline may benefit more from MDFT than from CBT.


The current study indicates that MDFT and CBT are equally effective in reducing cannabis use and delinquent behavior in adolescents with a cannabis use disorder in The Netherlands.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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