Coping Strategies and Support Structures of Addiction Affected Families: A Qualitative Study from Goa, India

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Abstract

Introduction: Despite the large burden of a relative’s drinking on their family members, the latter’s perspectives and experiences are largely neglected. The aims of this article are to assess the coping strategies used by affected family members (AFMs) in Goa, India, and to examine the nature of the support they have for dealing with their drinking relative. Method: In-depth interviews were conducted with adult AFMs selected through purposive and maximum variation sampling. Data was analyzed using thematic analyses. Results: The commonly used coping strategies included accommodating to the relative’s behavior, financially adapting to their means, self-harm, attempting to reason with the drinking relative, covert intervening, and avoiding fights and arguments. There was a general reluctance to seek support, and the type and quality of support that was available was also limited. Support from neighbors or relatives was primarily through providing a “listening ear” or financial support. Religious and spiritual pursuits were commonly used to seek solace, and to manage negative thoughts and feelings. Formal support was sought for themselves or the relative through existing health services and Al-Anon, and occasionally from the police. Discussion: AFMs experience a considerable amount of strain in relation to their relative’s drinking, and have to rely on different ways of coping and social support, as is available to them. Although there is a universality to the experiences of families affected by addictions, this must be interpreted with caution, as it is also accompanied by variations in cultural factors related to these experiences.

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