Problem areas reported by individuals with substance use disorders and their concerned significant others.
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The goal of this study was to describe the problem areas that patients with substance use disorders and their family members experience in terms of quality of relations, psychological problems, physical distress and quality of life. A sample of 64 participants, drawn from an outpatient addictions treatment center, participated in the present study. Two subgroups of patient-family member pairs were demarcated with respect to the type of relationship: 1) adult patients and their partners (n = 44) and 2) adolescent patients and parents (n = 20). Family members reported that, on average, a mean of four significant others were directly affected by patients’ addiction related problems. In contrast, the patients reported on average less than three family members were affected by their addiction. Consistently, the collapsed patient group reported significantly higher happiness scores on several life areas than concerned family members, such as finances, outdoor social activities, joint pleasant activities and emotional support. Patients and their family members reported comparable levels of physical and psychological distress, quality of life scores and commitment in their relationship. Family members reported lower scores on quality of dyadic relationships. A general tendency was found for parents to report lower happiness scores than partners. Overall, it appears that family members evaluate the consequences of patients’ addictive behaviors as more negative and more severe than the patients themselves. These findings contribute to the notion that family members need help to diminish the disruption of their family life, to improve their own physical and psychological wellbeing and to cope with the ongoing substance use.