Young adults' experiences of providing social support to a parent with alcohol abuse problems
Supportive relationships have been found to be very beneficial for health and well-being. However, amongst alcohol dependent individuals, family support is often low, as alcohol abuse can pose a barrier between the individual and his or her family. The aim of this study was to gain an understanding of how adult children experienced providing social support to a parent with alcohol abuse problems or recovering from alcohol addiction. To conceptualize the study, Bowen's Family Systems Theory was used, which highlights the impact that alcohol abuse has on a family as a whole, and that it does not solely affect the individual who is addicted to alcohol. Participants were selected using convenience sampling. Adopting a qualitative approach, the researcher conducted individual semi-structured interviews in which participants were students between the ages of 25 and 38 years. The qualitative interviews were transcribed verbatim and transcriptions were analyzed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA).Ethical clearance was obtained from the University of the Western Cape Higher Degrees Committee. Informed consent for conducting this research study was obtained from the University of the Western Cape (UWC) and Kensington Treatment Centre (KTC) as well as from participants. The consent forms indicate that only the researcher and the researcher's supervisor have access to the data obtained. The researcher pledged confidentiality and adherence to ethical rules and regulations. The researcher ensured that participant anonymity was not compromised upon analysis of the data. The study found that parental alcohol abuse has negative effects on the support provider's well-being and their involvement in the parent-child relationship. Effects included feelings of anger and shame; giving in to peer pressure; engaging in substance use and risky sexual behaviours; distancing themselves emotionally; and keeping secrets. Furthermore, participants also experienced social alienation; emotional and sexual abuse; and a fragmentation of the parent-child relationship.