There are limits on what you can do biographical reconstruction by those bereaved by alcohol-related deaths

Christine Valentine, Lorna Templeton, Richard Velleman

Research output: Chapter or section in a book/report/conference proceedingChapter or section

4 Citations (SciVal)


Drawing on interview narratives from family members bereaved following a death associated with serious alcohol problems , this chapter examines the experiences of a group largely hidden and neglected in research, policy and practice. These experiences provide a different and important perspective on alcohol use in contemporary Britain, yet those grieving a substance-related death have been largely ignored both in debates about alcohol or drug use, and in policy decisions around alcohol or drugs control. In analysing data from ongoing research which has interviewed 106 adults, including six couples, bereaved following a drug and/or alcohol related death, we have found that these deaths can be particularly difficult to grieve, due to: 1) the pressures of coping with the person’s substance use while they were alive; 2) the circumstances surrounding the person’s death; 3) a culture that may stigmatise such deaths and pathologise the families, devaluing their grief and depriving them of social support; and, 4) remembering and memorialising a life and death defined by alcohol and/or drugs and that the bereaved and/or others, may consider unfulfilled.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDrinking Dilemmas
Subtitle of host publicationSpace, Culture and Identity
EditorsT. Thurnell_Read
Place of PublicationLondon, U. K.
ISBN (Print)9781138931145
Publication statusPublished - 18 Dec 2015

Publication series

NameSociological Futures

Bibliographical note

Dr Christine Valentine (Research Officer, University of Bath): Christine has researched and published on the social and cultural shaping of bereavement in both British and Japanese contexts, and examined funeral welfare systems for people on low income both nationally and internationally. She is currently involved in research with families and individuals bereaved following a drug or alcohol-related death, which aims to raise awareness and improve policy and practice to meet the needs of this group. She is a member of the Research Centre for Death and Society (CDAS) and a founder member of the Association for the Study of Death and Society (ASDS).
Lorna Templeton (Research Officer, University of Bath, UK and Independent Research Consultant, Bristol): Lorna has worked for over 15 years exploring how children and families are affected by the substance misuse of a relative, and how research, practice and policy needs to be improved to better meet the needs of this large, but often marginalised, group. Lorna is a Trustee of Adfam, a member of Alcohol Research UK's Research Panel, and a founder member of a new international organisation call Afinet, Addiction and the Family International.
Richard Velleman (Emeritus Professor of Mental Health Research at the University of Bath, UK and Senior Research Consultant at Sangath Community NGO, Goa, India). Richard is a clinical and an academic psychologist. He is a leading authority on substance misuse, with special interest in the impact of this misuse on other family members, including children. He is a founder of the Alcohol, Drugs and the Family UK research network and of AFINet (Addiction and the Family International Network:; and a member of the 15-person Scientific Committee of the EMCDDA (European Monitoring Centre on Drugs and Drug Addiction). His work in Goa involves developing and researching the use of community lay health workers to deliver psychological interventions to people with serious alcohol problems. His research and practice interests cover a wide spectrum within mental health, particularly the impact of substance misuse and mental health issues on family members, especially children.


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