Family members affected by relatives’ alcohol, drug or gambling problems: A case of international neglect

First published: 10/05/2019 | Last updated: May 20th, 2019

This paper will make the case that, globally, addiction constitutes a stressful experience sufficient to cause pain and suffering to affected family members (AFMs) and to create large associated public sector costs.  AFMs experience social and material stressors of many kinds, lack information and social support, face dilemmas about how to cope, and are at high risk for ill-health as a result.  An updated stress-strain-coping-support model of the experience of AFMs, and an outline of the 5-Step form of help for AFMs in their own right, will be presented.  Also briefly considered will be: whether the stress for male AFMs is equivalent to that for women; and the overlap between the family experience of addiction and that of domestic violence. Despite the colossal number of people affected, the effects of addiction on family members has been neglected. The paper will conclude by suggesting that the experience of AFMs should be considered within a yet wider framework of disempowerment and human rights.

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Professor Jim Orford