Fractured Families: Parental perspectives of the effects of adolescent drug abuse on family life
Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery and Health, University of Technology, Sydney, Broadway, NSW
School of Nursing, Midwifery and Nutrition, James Cook University, Cairns QLD
School of Nursing Family and Community Health and Western Sydney Area Health Service, Cumberland Hospital, Parramatta NSW
PP: 321 - 330
Drug use in young people has serious ramifications for health and well-being of young people and their families and continues to be an area of major concern for health workers. Though the task of dealing with drug-related problems falls on families, particularly parents, very little literature has explored parental experiences of managing drug use within the context of family life. Eighteen parents of drug-abusing young people were recruited into this qualitative study that aimed to develop understandings into the effects of adolescent drug use on family life.
Findings revealed that the experience of having a drug-abusing adolescent family member had a profound effect on other members of the immediate family. Family relationships were fractured and split as a result of the on-going destructive and damaging behaviour of the drug-abusing young person.
Five themes were identified that captured the concept of fractured families. These are: Betrayal and loss of trust: You had to have the doors locked; Abuse, threats and violence: there were holes in the wall; Sibling anger and resentment: Better off now with him gone; Isolated, disgraced and humiliated: You are on your own with it; and, Feeling blamed: You are not a good parent. Implications for practice and further research are drawn from the findings of this paper.
drug abuse, adolescent health, family health, family support, qualitative research
Baigent M (2003) Physical complications of substance abuse: What the psychiatrist needs to know, Current Opinion in Psychiatry 16(3): 291-296.
Bates JA (2004) Use of narrative interviewing in everyday information behavior research, Library and Information Science Research 26: 15-28.
Bonomo Y and Bowes G (2001) Putting harm reduction into an adolescent context, Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health 37(1): 5-11.
Borbasi S, Jackson D and Langford R (2005) Navigating the maze of nursing research: An interactive learning adventure, Mosby, Sydney.
Bruner A and Fishman M (1998) Adolescents and Illicit Drug Use, Journal of the American Medical Association 280(7): 597-598.
Chen K, Kandel D and Davies M (1997) Relationships between frequency and quantity of cannabis use and last year proxy dependence among adolescents and adults in the United States, Drug and Alcohol Dependence 46(1-2): 53-67.
Darbyshire P and Jackson D (2005) Preface: Children, families and nursing: Spotlights, shadows and places in between, Contemporary Nurse Special Issue: Advances in Contemporary Child and Family Health Care 18(1-2): viii-xii.
Ehrmin J (2001) Unresolved feelings of guilt and shame in the maternal role with substance-dependent African American women, Image: Journal of Nursing Scholarship 33(1): 47-52.
Hopper CJ, Mikulich SK and Crowley TJ (2000) Heroin use among adolescents in treatment for substance use disorders, Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 39(10): 1316-23.
Jackson D and Mannix J (2003) Then suddenly he went right off the rails: Mothers' stories of adolescent cannabis use, Contemporary Nurse 14(2): 169-179.
Jackson D and Mannix J (2004) Giving voice to the burden of blame: A feminist study of mother's experiences of mother blaming, International Journal of Nursing Practice 10(4): 150-158.
Llewellyn G, Sullivan G and Minichiello V (2004) Sampling in qualitative research. In Minichiello V, Sullivan G, Greenwood K & Axford R (eds) Handbook of Research Methods for Nursing and Health Science 2nd edn, Pearson Education, Australia.
Myles J and Willner P (1999) Substance misuse and psychiatric co-morbidity in children and adolescents, Current Opinion in Psychiatry 12(3): 287-290.
Pearson G (2000) Substance abuse and the family, Current Opinion in Psychiatry 13(3): 305-308.
Silberberg S (2001) Searching for family resilience, Australian Institute of Family Studies 58: 52-57.
Spooner C and Hill W (2002) Preventing drug misuse by young people: We need to do more that 'just say no', Addiction 97(5): 478-483.
Usher K, Jackson D and O'Brien L (2005) Adolescent drug abuse: Helping families survive, International Journal of Mental Health Nursing 14(3): 209-214.
van Manen M (1990) Researching lived experience: Human science for an action sensitive pedagogy, Althouse, Ontario.