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Title:A multiple goals/normative approach to family communication surrounding young adults' substance use problems: explicating parents' and siblings' communication challenges and strategies
Author(s):Middleton, Ashley
Director of Research:Caughlin, John P.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Caughlin, John P.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Knobloch, Leanne K.; Kam, Jennifer; Smith, Douglas C.; Hardesty, Jennifer L.
Department / Program:Communication
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Alcohol/drug use
Communication strategies
Multiple goals
Normative theory
Substance use
Abstract:Recent evidence suggests that substance use can be a pervasive problem for young adults (individuals aged 18-40), with detrimental effects on their employment, health, and relationships. Although family members are often implicated in the etiology of substance use related disorders, research has rarely considered how young adults’ substance use impacts their parents and siblings, which is problematic because substance use within the family can threaten parents’ and siblings’ mental and physical well-being. Extant theory on substance use and families can account for general behavioral patterns and their association with family member stress, but it fails to consider how context-specific, situated demands complicate family member communication about and coping with substance use. Through qualitative interviews with 49 parents and siblings, the current study developed normative theory regarding parents’ and siblings’ experiences, specifically focusing on challenges that may arise from communication processes surrounding alcohol and/or drug use. Further, the present study explicated parents’ and siblings’ strategies for managing communication challenges. Results indicated that parents and siblings experience communication challenges related to privacy, support, and uncertainty. Findings suggested that how parents and siblings experience and manage communication challenges is predicated on the nature and presence of interactional goals and meanings. Although there was some overlap between parents’ and siblings’ challenges and strategies, in some respects, parents and siblings experiences were also distinct. Results have implications for clinicians involved in family education and the treatment of substance use problems. Moreover, the current study contributes to a growing body of research on the relevance of multiple goals and meanings to coping with health and illness.
Issue Date:2013-02-03
Rights Information:Copyright 2012 Ashley Middleton
Date Available in IDEALS:2013-02-03
Date Deposited:2012-12

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