Drug dependency is an emotional, physical and financial strain on both the individual involved and his or her family. Whereas many studies have been done to prove the mental and physical state of drug addicts, little has been done regarding understanding the feelings of their families. This paper is a review of a study done by Rodrigues, Sanches, de Oliveira, de Pinho, and Radovanovic (2018) to determine the different emotions and feelings families of drug addicts go through.
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The researcher started the study by observing the identified drug addicts in their daily life without interfering. Afterward, the families were interviewed about their experiences and feelings. The study observed 15 drug addicts in nine families. This means that there were families that had more than one drug addict to take care of at the time. However, the researchers do not show any link in regards to the feelings harbored by family members and the number of addicts in the same household.
Purpose of the Research
The general purpose of the research is to figure out what families go through right before and after drug dependence. Rodrigues, et al. (2018) work on the assumption that there should be a specific reason that has ideally built up over time that encourages people to take and continue indulging in drugs to a point of dependency. Whereas the researchers do not include the impact of dependency and drug addiction in the article, the concern is highlighted in several parts of the paper. Rodrigues, et al. (2018) argue that even though drug abuse is an individual activity, it affects the whole family in various ways.
They do not provide a clear research question. However, one can denote that the primary question is what do families go through before and after drug dependence? Interestingly, Rodrigues, et al. (2018) also do not provide a hypothesis.
The researchers based their arguments on the theory of modernity and postmodernity by Michel Maffesoli (Meynert 2015). The school of thought suggests that modernity is the actualization of a certain culture at that time. Meynert (2015) explains that Maffesoli views the evolution of culture as the reassurances of all the things that culture always thought important and plausible. Towards this end, the concept of postmodernity refers to a time when the most valued aspects of the culture are kept dormant in favor of other elements.
It is important to point out that Maffesoli’s school of thought has been widely used and accepted in sociological studies. The authors took time to explain the link between the objective of the study and the chosen theory due to its broad nature. Rodrigues et al. (2018) explain that they have taken some concepts of Maffesoli’s view on sociology that apply to their study. The elements that were picked were feelings, emotions, imagery, and stigma. Again, the researchers assumed that challenges that would drive a family member to abuse drugs were mainly emotional. All the aspects that the study analyzed (feelings, emotions, imagery, and stigma) affect the individual and the family before, during, and after the drug dependency.
This is crucial to note since the study focused mainly on the before and after drug dependency and not during. Indeed, other sociological and psychological theories could have also been used. For example, the drug self-administration model is a psychological theory that suggests that there are two main reasons why many people become drug addicts. The first is through the direct reinforcement of a part of the brain that cannot then function without the drug (Meynert, 2015). The second way is through the impact of the drug on other reinforcers of the brain that then cannot work without the addiction (Meynert, 2015).
The research targeted families that were availed by the Psychosocial Care Center for Alcohol and Other Drugs in one of the municipalities of the state of Panama-Brazil. One of the key characteristics of these families was the narrowing of family ties with other members due to the addiction. Due to the highly specific nature of the sample, the study was able to include 15 members only. The researchers gave a disclaimer that one of the family members recruited for the study was dependent on alcohol but had abstained during the study. There were no biases recorded.
Data Collection Method and Procedure
Data were collected in two ways. The first was through observation. Researchers were allocated individuals they would observe without any further engagement. At the end of this first phase, the observer met with the individual in their household where they had a verbal discussion with the family. The second phase of the data collection was through interviews. The researchers do not provide specific details on whether the research questions were open or close-ended.
Due to the sensitivity of the research, the study was approved by the Permanent Committee on Ethics in Research with Human Beings of the Universidade Estadual de Maringá. Additionally, all participants signed an informed consent form. There is no mention of any right to privacy and protection from harm.
The authors do not mention any variables that were tested or controlled.
Rodrigues et al. (2018) divided the findings into four categories. The four categories were in the form of statements are were: My life has changed a lot because of drugs (Class 1); I fear leaving him alone (Class 2); I trust and have faith in God (Class 3), and I am always worried in my own house (Class 4). The authors found that there were feelings of embarrassment, pity, and anger in Class 1. Many of the participants were also scared for their family member that was an addict.
Interestingly, a significant number were also scared for their safety in the presence of the addict. In Class 3, some family members sought to find solace in religion. Thus, they believed that they would pray for their loved ones to get better. The last category proved that family members felt some form of insecurity around their loved ones who were dependent on drugs. Since there were no hypotheses one cannot state whether it was proved right. However, the findings are in line with the theory used.
The authors go further and analyze the findings and state that family members bear a complex combination of feelings before, during, and after a member becomes an addict. It is important to note that the researchers failed to fully bring out the feelings of the families before the addiction, which is part of their objective.
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Rodrigues, T. F. C., Sanches, R. N., de Oliveira, M. L. F., de Pinho, L. B. & Radovanovic, T. A. C. (2018). Revista Brasileira de Enfermagem, 71(2018): 2272-2279.
Meynert, J. M. (2015). Conceptualizations of childhood, pedagogy and educational research in the postmodern: A critical interpretation. London, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishers.