Coping with problematic drug use in the family: An evaluation of the Stepping Stones program

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Introduction and Aims.

Problematic substance use by an individual is often highly destructive to their family, creating emotional turmoil and destroying healthy family functioning. The aim of this study was to evaluate the impact of participation in the Stepping Stones family support program on the coping capacity of family members affected by another's substance use.

Design and Methods.

A pre and post study of the Stepping Stones intervention for families was conducted, involving 108 participants recruited from March 2013 to March 2014.


Significant improvement in coping across all domains was observed post course and at follow up on both outcome measures (Coping Questionnaire and the Family Drug Support Questionnaire). Improvements for participants were either increased or sustained at 3 months follow up. Participants recorded high satisfaction ratings.

Discussion and Conclusions.

The findings from this study demonstrate that participation in the Stepping Stones program assists family members to cope better with problematic substance use of a family member, as indicated by reductions in negative coping strategies, such as over-engagement, making excuses for the drug user or hopelessly tolerating the problem, and improvements in positive coping strategies such as self-care and engagement with their own activities and interests. [Gethin A, Trimingham T, Chang T, Farrell M, Ross J. Coping with problematic drug use in the family: An evaluation of the Stepping Stones program. Drug Alcohol Rev 2016;35:470–476]

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