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Title: Exploring the help-seeking experiences of family members affected by someone else's drug and/or alcohol use
Author: Dowman, Fiona
ISNI:       0000 0004 6425 2565
Awarding Body: University of East London
Current Institution: University of East London
Date of Award: 2017
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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.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Prof.) Qualification Level: Doctoral