Network Therapy: Using the Patient's Family and Peer support for Effective Office Practice
Marc Galanter, M.D.
Professor, Department of Psychiatry
Director, Division of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse
New York University School of Medicine
Physicians in office practice may encounter considerable difficulty engaging addicted patients, sustaining them in treatment, and employing medications like disulfiram or buprenorphine. Network Therapy is an approach to addiction treatment designed to address this problem. In this modality, a group of a patient’s selected family members or close friends are enlisted to provide ongoing support and to promote the patient’s positive attitude and behavior change. It can be adapted to the treatment of addicted people in diverse general medical or psychiatric settings.
The goal of this approach is the prompt achievement of abstinence with relapse prevention, and the development of a drug-free adaption to daily life. The value of the Network is that it enhances the addicted person’s commitment to therapy, and provides a basis for undercutting denial. Applications of network therapy designed to sustain recovery can be used in conjunction with buprenorphine, disulfiram, or naltrexone administration, and may also be applied with Twelve-Step participation. With these approaches as well, the enlistment of supportive family members and friends can be an invaluable resource for patients in their attempts to achieve and maintain abstinence, and for the physician in promoting this goal.