skip to main content
Washington State Institute for Public Policy
Back Button

Family Behavior Therapy (FBT)

Substance Use Disorders: Treatment for Adults
Benefit-cost methods last updated December 2017.  Literature review updated May 2014.
Open PDF
Family Behavior Therapy is a standalone behavioral treatment based on the Community Reinforcement Approach aimed at reducing substance use. Participants attend sessions with at least one family member, typically a parent or cohabitating partner. The treatment consists of several parts including behavioral contracting, skills to reduce interaction with individuals and situations related to drug use, impulse and urge control, communication skills, and vocational or educational training. Treatment in the included studies occurred over a 6- to 12-month period. Our findings reflect only adults treated in the program and exclude results for adolescents.
The estimates shown are present value, life cycle benefits and costs. All dollars are expressed in the base year chosen for this analysis (2016). The chance the benefits exceed the costs are derived from a Monte Carlo risk analysis. The details on this, as well as the economic discount rates and other relevant parameters are described in our Technical Documentation.
Benefit-Cost Summary Statistics Per Participant
Benefits to:
Taxpayers $1,987 Benefits minus costs $7,483
Participants $2,371 Benefit to cost ratio $4.93
Others $990 Chance the program will produce
Indirect $4,036 benefits greater than the costs 60 %
Total benefits $9,385
Net program cost ($1,902)
Benefits minus cost $7,483
1In addition to the outcomes measured in the meta-analysis table, WSIPP measures benefits and costs estimated from other outcomes associated with those reported in the evaluation literature. For example, empirical research demonstrates that high school graduation leads to reduced crime. These associated measures provide a more complete picture of the detailed costs and benefits of the program.

2“Others” includes benefits to people other than taxpayers and participants. Depending on the program, it could include reductions in crime victimization, the economic benefits from a more educated workforce, and the benefits from employer-paid health insurance.

3“Indirect benefits” includes estimates of the net changes in the value of a statistical life and net changes in the deadweight costs of taxation.
Detailed Monetary Benefit Estimates Per Participant
Benefits from changes to:1 Benefits to:
Taxpayers Participants Others2 Indirect3 Total
Crime $5 $0 $14 $2 $21
Labor market earnings associated with illicit drug abuse or dependence $988 $2,176 $0 $4,487 $7,650
Health care associated with illicit drug abuse or dependence $994 $195 $977 $507 $2,674
Adjustment for deadweight cost of program $0 $0 $0 ($960) ($960)
Totals $1,987 $2,371 $990 $4,036 $9,385
Detailed Annual Cost Estimates Per Participant
Annual cost Year dollars Summary
Program costs $3,698 2013 Present value of net program costs (in 2016 dollars) ($1,902)
Comparison costs $1,851 2013 Cost range (+ or -) 10 %
The per-participant cost of treatment is based on a single study and includes one hour of weekly individual counseling for 12 months, estimated using Washington’s Medicaid hourly reimbursement rate for individual treatment. Comparison group costs incurred in this single study included the cost of a two-hour weekly group session for 12 months, estimated using Washington’s Medicaid hourly reimbursement rate for group treatment.
The figures shown are estimates of the costs to implement programs in Washington. The comparison group costs reflect either no treatment or treatment as usual, depending on how effect sizes were calculated in the meta-analysis. The cost range reported above reflects potential variation or uncertainty in the cost estimate; more detail can be found in our Technical Documentation.
Estimated Cumulative Net Benefits Over Time (Non-Discounted Dollars)
The graph above illustrates the estimated cumulative net benefits per-participant for the first fifty years beyond the initial investment in the program. We present these cash flows in non-discounted dollars to simplify the “break-even” point from a budgeting perspective. If the dollars are negative (bars below $0 line), the cumulative benefits do not outweigh the cost of the program up to that point in time. The program breaks even when the dollars reach $0. At this point, the total benefits to participants, taxpayers, and others, are equal to the cost of the program. If the dollars are above $0, the benefits of the program exceed the initial investment.

Meta-analysis is a statistical method to combine the results from separate studies on a program, policy, or topic in order to estimate its effect on an outcome. WSIPP systematically evaluates all credible evaluations we can locate on each topic. The outcomes measured are the types of program impacts that were measured in the research literature (for example, crime or educational attainment). Treatment N represents the total number of individuals or units in the treatment group across the included studies.

An effect size (ES) is a standard metric that summarizes the degree to which a program or policy affects a measured outcome. If the effect size is positive, the outcome increases. If the effect size is negative, the outcome decreases.

Adjusted effect sizes are used to calculate the benefits from our benefit cost model. WSIPP may adjust effect sizes based on methodological characteristics of the study. For example, we may adjust effect sizes when a study has a weak research design or when the program developer is involved in the research. The magnitude of these adjustments varies depending on the topic area.

WSIPP may also adjust the second ES measurement. Research shows the magnitude of some effect sizes decrease over time. For those effect sizes, we estimate outcome-based adjustments which we apply between the first time ES is estimated and the second time ES is estimated. We also report the unadjusted effect size to show the effect sizes before any adjustments have been made. More details about these adjustments can be found in our Technical Documentation.

Meta-Analysis of Program Effects
Outcomes measured Treatment Age No. of effect sizes Treatment N Adjusted effect sizes (ES) and standard errors (SE) used in the benefit-cost analysis Unadjusted effect size (random effects model)
First time ES is estimated Second time ES is estimated
ES SE Age ES SE Age ES p-value
Illicit drug use disorder 30 1 38 -0.670 0.251 31 0.000 0.187 34 -0.670 0.008

Citations Used in the Meta-Analysis

Azrin, N.H., McMahon, P.T., Donahue, B., Besalel, V., Lapinski, K.J., Kogan, E.S., Acierno, R.E., & Galloway, E. (1994). Behavior Therapy for Drug Abuse: A Controlled Treatment Outcome Study. Behavioral Research and Therapy, 32(8), 857-866.