UB Researcher Studying Couples Therapy in Combination with Substance-Abuse Treatment

By Kathleen Weaver

Release Date: September 13, 2000

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A researcher with the University at Buffalo's Research Institute on Addictions (RIA) has embarked on the first comprehensive examination of the multidimensional effects of couples therapy with married or cohabiting individuals who misuse drugs other than alcohol.

The study by William Fals-Stewart, Ph.D., who recently joined RIA as a senior research scientist, is funded by a $2 million grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

Fals-Stewart explained that couples therapy involves working with issues that play a part in the relationship between a man and woman: the individual satisfaction of the two partners, violence that may be occurring between them, and the basic stability of the relationship itself.

"This project will look at drug-using behavior and the adjustment of the partners in the relationship as a means of treating a drug-abuse problem," he said. Previous studies have only looked at couples with an alcohol problem.

"Behavioral couples therapy (BCT) will be employed with more traditional, individually-based interventions with some participants in the study," Fals-Stewart explained. "With other drug-abusing patients and their partners, an equally intensive individual-based treatment and intensive psychoeducational approach will be used."

One of the secondary goals of the study is to determine whether use of BCT is more cost-beneficial and cost-effective than the other treatments provided.

Fals-Stewart joined UB's Research Institute from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. A clinical psychologist, his research interests include marital and family therapy with drug-abusing patients, long-term outcomes of substance abuse treatment, and psychological and neuropsychological assessments with drug-abusing patients.

He did his undergraduate work at Cornell University and completed a master's degree in experimental psychology at the SUNY College at Cortland. He received a second master's degree and his doctorate in clinical psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology, San Diego.