Therapeutic Health Services

Focus on Families
Focus on Families is one of ten programs cited nationally by the National Institute on Drug Abuse as an effective drug and alcohol prevention program for children. Focus on Families was featured in the nationally broadcast PBS series "Moyers on Addiction: Close to Home" that aired in March 1998. Focus on Families was recognized earlier in 1999 by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (Office of The President) as one of eight programs nationally that are working to stop the cycle of addiction in families.

Objectives of (need for) the program

T/H/S collaborated with the University of Washington to develop a special parenting program to meet the needs of people recovering from drug of alcohol addiction who have children. The Focus on Families Program is unique in our community because the challenge of parenting while in recovery is openly addressed. In addition, four months of intensive group therapy and eight months of in-home visits enable parents to effectively apply skills learned in the classroom in the home.

Our primary goals are to help parents in recovery avoid relapse and implement parenting skills to provide a healthy, nurturing environment for their kids. The children from these families are at greater risk because they imitate the behavior of parents who also need to obtain parenting knowledge and take a stronger parenting role.

This program depends on funding from private sources. At current funding levels, the program is able to assist a little over 10% of the parents with children receiving treatment at T/H/S each year, or 36 families including 36-50 children.


We continue to support this program because of the promising results being achieved by the families, as reported by University of Washington researchers who also helped design it. The study compared families who participated in the program to those who did not. The researchers reported that patents who completed the program and focused on parenting had far fewer drug relapses and applied greater problem-solving skills. They were also more successful communicating with their kids about expectations at home and in school and about family conflicts like drug and alcohol use.

Parents in this program apply these skills in the home:

  • Identify high-risk situations for relapse and implement a five-step coping (prevention) plan.
  • Setting and monitoring limits with children including family policy on drugs and alcohol
  • Teaching children problem-solving and drug refusal skills
  • Rewarding children's positive behavior and the formation of healthy relationships with peers
  • Setting appropriate consequences with children for misbehavior
  • Understanding and setting realistic expectations for children's involvement in family tasks
  • Helping children in school by interacting with school staff and helping with homework
What our patients say
  • "I wasn't really listening to or communicating with my children and  now I have a way to do that."
  • "I know my baby would not be the healthy, beautiful girl she is if it were  not for this program."
  • "Focus on Families is helping me save myself and my kids."

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