The role of spouses and extended family members as primary caretakers of children during a parent's drug addiction: The parent perspective

Document Type


Publication Date



This qualitative study explores the experiences of five men and one woman who were parents, substance dependent, and receiving treatment at a year-long drug treatment program. The qualitative research methods of observation and in-depth interviewing were used to collect and analyze information about their experiences. This paper discusses themes related to the role of spouses and extended family members who assumed primary responsibility for children during a parent's drug addiction. Participants reported how, when they were unable to care for their children, these responsibilities fell to other family members, giving rise to many conflicts. Initially they were grateful for the support, especially while the participants were actively using drugs, because this provided them with more opportunities to continue their addictive lifestyle. Eventually, power struggles emerged when the participants were in recovery and attempted to reenter their children's lives as parental figures. Copyright © by The Haworth Press, Inc. All rights reserved.

Publication Title

Occupational Therapy in Mental Health

First Page Number


Last Page Number




This document is currently not available here.