Exploring the Help-Seeking Experiences of Family Members Affected by Someone Else’s Drug and/or Alcohol use.

Prof Doc Thesis

Dowman, F. 2017. Exploring the Help-Seeking Experiences of Family Members Affected by Someone Else’s Drug and/or Alcohol use. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London Psychology https://doi.org/10.15123/PUB.6468
AuthorsDowman, F.
TypeProf Doc Thesis

Background & Aims: The impact of an individual’s drug or alcohol use on their family members has been widely acknowledged and policy and clinical practice guidelines advise that drug and alcohol services offer family members practical and therapeutic support. However, research in this area is limited with a focus on the experiences of children affected by parental drug and alcohol use or how family members can help improve outcomes for their relatives in treatment for drug and alcohol use. Little is known about the experiences of affected adult family members in receipt of support services for themselves. The current research aimed to explore the impact that having a relative who uses drugs and/ or alcohol had on family members’ lives as well as affected family members’ experiences of seeking help for themselves. Method: Semi structured interviews were carried out with eleven adults affected by a family member’s drug and/or alcohol use and receiving support from a family, partners and friends service in London. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed using thematic analysis (TA), informed by Braun and Clarke’s (2006) six-phase model of TA and underpinned by a critical realist epistemology. Results: The analysis produced five main themes across the data. Each indicated important factors in the journey of having a relative who uses drugs or alcohol. The themes were: ‘family members’ distress’; ‘ruptures in relationships’; ‘responsibility’; ‘routes to receiving help’ and ‘relieving the pressure’ Conclusion: The results of the analysis highlight the multi-faceted impact of drug and alcohol use on affected family members’ lives as well as the ways that services could help to facilitate help seeking. Findings support previous literature surrounding affected family members and drug and alcohol use and offer new insights into family members’ motivations for seeking help, as well as why many family members become isolated. The findings highlight the need for ongoing research in this area. Implications for future research, policy and clinical practice are discussed.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.15123/PUB.6468
Publication dates
PrintMay 2017
Publication process dates
Deposited19 Oct 2017
Publisher's version
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