Stresses and strains for family members living with drinking or drug problems in England and Mexico

J Orford, G Natera, J Davies, A Nava, J Mora, K Rigby, C Bradbury, A Copello, Richard Velleman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Citations (SciVal)


This paper is a first qualitative approach to the study of stresses, emotions and health related to drug and alcohol use and the family. The comprehension of the core aspects of the experience relatives living with an alcohol or drug user, and the way family members respond to it, can contribute not only to the knowledge about coping strategies, but also about family roles in the changing process. In this sense, the work considers cross-cultural aspects to explore and discover the psychological variations in each culture that are not present in the other. Data are drawn from interviews with 12 English and 12 matched Mexican family members, and the focus is confined to the participant's descriptions of stressors they experienced, their emotional reactions and Signs of mental or physical strain. The aim of this paper is to provide a detailed description, with illustrations, of stresses and strains, and the possible links between them. The main data gathering the method used in the present project has been quite a lengthy semistructured interview, and the main analysis strategy has been qualitative (Strauss, Corbin, 1990). The hypotheses derived from this work are that certain core aspects of the experiences of relatives in these circumstances are nearly universal. This core experience consist of finding the user unpleasant to live with; being concerned about the user's health or performance; experiencing financial difficulties; being aware of harmful effects on the family/home as a whole; feeling anxious and worried, or helpless and despairing or low and depressed, and experiencing poor general health or specific physical symptoms which the relative attributes, at least in part, to the stress of living with the effects of a drinking or drug problem. There are a number of facets to the cultural contrast between Mexico City and those parts of Southern England from which the English participants were recruited. Although the culture in which the Mexican participants resided may be more collectivist, and the English culture more individualist, they differ also along urban-rural, religious-secular, and Catholic-Protestant dimensions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalSalud Mental
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1998


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