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Health Psychology and Behavioral Medicine: an Open
ISSN: (Print) 2164-2850 (Online) Journal homepage: https://www.tandfonline.com/loi/rhpb20
An exploratory research on the role of family in
youth's drug addiction
Sobia Masood & Najam Us Sahar
To cite this article: Sobia Masood & Najam Us Sahar (2014) An exploratory research on the role
of family in youth's drug addiction, Health Psychology and Behavioral Medicine: an Open Access
Journal, 2:1, 820-832, DOI: 10.1080/21642850.2014.939088
To link to this article: https://doi.org/10.1080/21642850.2014.939088
© 2014 The Author(s). Published by Taylor &
Published online: 20 Aug 2014.
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An exploratory research on the role of family in youth’s drug addiction
Sobia Masood*and Najam Us Sahar
Department of Behavioral Sciences, Fatima Jinnah Women University, Rawalpindi, Pakistan
(Received 23 October 2013; accepted 11 June 2014)
Most of the researches in Pakistan are concerned with the aetiological factors of drug addiction
among the youth. However, few studies seek to explore the social aspects of this phenomenon.
The present study aimed to explore the role of family, the inﬂuence of parental involvement,
and communication styles in youth’s drug addiction in a qualitative manner. Twenty drug
addicts (age range 18–28 years) were taken as a sample from drug rehabilitation centres in
Rawalpindi and Islamabad, Pakistan. A structured interview guide was administered
comprising questions related to the individual’s habits, relationship with family and friends,
and modes of communication within the family. Case proﬁles of the participants were also
taken. The rehabilitation centres offered family therapy and the researcher, as a non-
participant, observed these sessions as part of the analysis. The demographic information
revealed that majority of the participants were poly-substance abusers (80%) and the
signiﬁcant reasons for starting drugs were the company of peers and curiosity. The thematic
analysis revealed parental involvement and emotional expressiveness as two major
components in family communication. It was found that parents were concerned about their
children, but were not assertive in the implementation of family rules. It was also found that
the major life decisions of the participants were taken by their parents, which is a
characteristic of collectivist Pakistani society.
Keywords: drug addiction; Pakistani youth; rehabilitation; parental involvement; emotional
expressiveness; family therapy in Pakistan
Drug abuse is a prevalent problem among Pakistan’s youth, who account for 28% of the whole
population of Pakistan (Niaz, Siddiqui, Hassan, Ahmed, & Akhtar, 2005; Royen & Sathar,
2013; United Nations Ofﬁce on Drugs and Crime [UNODC] (2013)). According to the recent
report by UNODC and Pakistan Bureau of Statistics in 2013, an estimated 6.45 million of the
population in Pakistan use drugs on an annual basis with cannabis being the most commonly
Among the youth population, nearly 25% are involved in some form of drug abuse. Among the
youngest drug users, between the ages of 15 and 19 years, the most commonly used drug is can-
nabis. Compared to other national estimates, opiate use is very high with one million people using
heroin or opium. The use of ‘Sheesha’
with cannabis (charas) and other drugs is a new emerging
trend and is being abused by both males and females, mostly from the upper socio-economic strata
living in the posh areas of cities (Ministry of Narcotics Control, Islamabad, Year Book, 2012).
© 2014 The Author(s). Published by Taylor & Francis.
*Corresponding author. Email: email@example.com
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/
licenses/by/3.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly
cited. The moral rights of the named author(s) have been asserted.
Health Psychology & Behavioural Medicine, 2014
Vol. 2, No. 1, 820–832, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/21642850.2014.939088
Availability of substances such as cannabis is determined culturally. The community and gov-
ernment inﬂuence and decide which drugs should be controlled and how. Under Pakistani law,
shop owners cannot legally sell drugs, even cigarettes, to individuals below 18 years of age,
but people tend to ﬁnd ways to get around the law. In a number of studies of substance abuse
in the developing world, drug use has been characterized by the use of low-priced and accessible
drugs, such as cannabis, alcohol, and tobacco, and volatiles, such as glue (United Nations Inter-
national Children’s Emergency Fund, as cited in Sherman, Plitt, Hassan, Cheng, & Zafar, 2005).
The effects of substance abuse have far-reaching consequences. They not only affect the user
him/herself, but also their families, and society as a whole. The work sector loses able-bodied
individuals, which in turn affects the economy. The family’s role in the development of substance
abuse is unique as the family simultaneously suffers from the direct consequences of the abuse,
while also holding the potential to be one of the most powerful protective inﬂuences against it.
In supporting efforts to control drug-related problems in the country, the rehabilitation centres
in Pakistan mostly focus on culturally adapted rehabilitation techniques. Common therapies used
in rehabilitation centres include a modiﬁed version of the Alcoholics Anonymous treatment and
family therapy. Most of these rehabilitation centres are present in the urban areas and they recruit
psychologists and psychiatrists to work in these facilities.
Multiple drug use among young people is now a widespread phenomenon prevalent in almost
all sections of society. A large number of young people, both male and female, experiment with a
variety of illegal substances such as cannabis products (such as Hash/Hashish and marijuana),
cocaine, and heroin. Drug abuse among the youth of Pakistan is becoming a major
issue, and identifying the family dynamics and interfamily communication styles that may inﬂu-
ence a youth to turn to drugs is the target of this article.
1.1. Family dynamics
Pakistan is a collectivistic culture in which the family is given priority as social and ﬁnancial
support is coveted. Family is the core for need fulﬁlment. This is why joint families prevail in
which grandparents, parents, children, and their uncles and aunts all live together. Members
make major life decisions with the approval from elders of the family as they are the primary
Family dynamics can be deﬁned as the way a family is structured including the individual
interpersonal roles played by the members within the family unit. Family dynamics is the basis
for all individuals to learn how to cope with the challenges they might face in later life. Parental
support and unconditional positive regard strengthen self-esteem and self-conﬁdence, and their
absence reduces them.
Drug abuse is often referred to as a family issue because of the serious negative consequences
of addiction and because the importance of recovery affects not only the substance abuser, but
also all the members of the family. Therefore a focus on the role of families is critical in under-
standing and preventing the destructive intergenerational cycle of substance abuse and addiction.
According to the ﬁndings of Bahr, Maughan, Marcos, and Li’s(1998) study, the parent–ado-
lescent bond has indirect effects through religiosity, and family drug use. It was found that among
family variables the two major variables were for bond to mother, followed by family drug
problem. Bond to father, parental monitoring, and family aggression were relatively weak predic-
tors of adolescent drug use. Since the bond to mother is stronger, adolescents feel closer to them
and share their daily life routine, thus communicating frequently with their mothers. In Pakistani
society a strong bond to mother is observed as fathers are seen as the authority ﬁgure. Poor com-
munication within the family unit affects an individual’s indulgence in drug abuse.
Health Psychology & Behavioural Medicine 821
The ﬁndings from Manley, Searight, Skitka, Russo, and Schudy’s(1991) study found that the
families of adolescent drug abusers were more reserved in their expression of thoughts and feel-
ings. As fathers in Pakistani society are responsible for discipline, they are seen as less warm and
as such communicating on a one-on-one basis can prove to be a little difﬁcult. Out of the many
conﬂicts within a family, the lack of problem-solving abilities, interactions, and communication
are related to further addiction (Hosseinbor, Bakshani, & Shakiba, 2012; Sajida, Zia, & Irfan,
The objective of this study was to explore the role of family, the inﬂuence of parental involve-
ment, and communication styles in youth drug addiction.
The participants included in the study were substance abusers seeking treatment from validated
rehabilitation centres. The participants were selected through purposive sampling technique
from rehabilitation centres which were offering family therapy sessions, and where the clients
were residing in the facilities for a minimum of three months in order to facilitate detoxiﬁcation.
All the participants were males between the ages of 18 and 28 years old and were being treated in
various drug rehabilitation centres in Rawalpindi and Islamabad, Pakistan.
The present research was conducted on 20 individuals who had an understanding of their
dependency. A preliminary study was conducted which helped in building rapport with the par-
ticipants. It also helped the researcher in identifying the inclusion and exclusion criteria. Partici-
pants were excluded from the study if they were in an active phase of mental disorders such as
bipolar disorder, depression, or stable schizophrenia.
The facilities from which the data were collected were offering family therapy sessions con-
ducted by trained psychologists. These sessions were attended by immediate family members of
the individuals admitted for substance abuse. The family members included in the therapy ses-
sions were mostly the parents and wives of the clients. These sessions were attended by the
researcher with permission from the facility as well as the family members.
2.2.1. Demographic data sheet
A demographic data sheet was used to collect data regarding the age, family income, family
system, siblings, marital status, family system, familial illnesses, as well as data regarding the sub-
stance abused, frequency of abuse, relapses, and the beginning of the addiction (Table 1).
2.2.2. Interview guide
A structured interview guide was constructed consisting of questions referring to the individual’s
habits, relationship with family and friends, modes of communication within the family as well as
the social aspects of their lives. The interview guide was adapted and extended from the Family
Functioning Style Scale by Deal, Trivette, and Dunst (1988) and Dunst, Trivette, and Deal (1988).
2.2.3. Observation technique
It was a practice in the rehabilitation centres to hold family therapy sessions. The family therapy
sessions were conducted by three consultant psychologists of the facility, at different times, and
822 S. Masood and N. Us Sahar
were attended by three to ﬁve members of the participant’s family, which included the parents and
spouses. Consent was obtained from the psychologists and the attending family members for the
researcher to attend the sessions herself as a non-participant observer. The data collected from
therapy sessions were in the form of ﬁeld notes.
Additionally, informal discussions were held with the participants, the psychologists, and
some of the family members present in the facility during the preliminary study. These discus-
sions helped the researcher in rapport-building and in understanding the setting of the session.
The researcher made case proﬁles of the individuals which helped in formulating a compre-
hensive picture of the particular individual and in the corroboration of the information collected in
the focus group discussions during the family therapy sessions (Table 2).
Data were collected from rehabilitation centres which were sanctioned by the Anti-Narcotics
Force of Pakistan in the vicinity of Islamabad and Rawalpindi. Some government and private
institutions offer family therapy along with rehabilitation of drug addicts which is why these
speciﬁc centres were selected. The interviews took a minimum of 30–40 minutes each. The
data were collected over a period of four weeks in the form of notes. Research ethics were fol-
lowed as the researcher took consent from the participant in the form of signatures on a
The data collected were then translated from the native language, Urdu, into English. The
themes were generated based on the common responses by participants.
The researcher used the interpretive paradigm to code the verbatim responses collected from
the participants. A master code sheet was created on the basis of themes identiﬁed in Family
Table 1. Frequency and Percentage of participants demographic variables (age, education, marital status,
family system, birth order, occupation, mother, and father).
Variable Label Frequency (f) Percentage (%)
Age 18–22 years 3 15.0
23–28 years 17 85.0
Education Uneducated 2 10.0
Up to ﬁfth grade 5 25.0
Up to tenth grade 9 45.0
College level 4 20.0
Marital status Single/unmarried 9 45.0
Married 8 40.0
Separated/divorced 2 10.0
Widowed 1 5.0
Family system Joint 15 75.0
Nuclear 5 25.0
Birth Order First born 2 10.0
Middle born 14 70.0
Last born 4 20.0
Occupation Employed 14 70.0
Unemployed 6 30.0
Mother Alive 18 90.0
Deceased 2 10.0
Father Alive 12 60.0
Deceased 8 40.0
Note: (N= 20).
Health Psychology & Behavioural Medicine 823
Functioning Style scale (Dunst et al., 1988). The researcher continued to code the responses while
conducting interviews and observing the interaction between family members during the sessions.
Consensus was reached through committee approach during analysis.
Coding was applied to the responses pertaining to communication styles, social relationships,
and family dynamics. Subcategorization was done based upon the patients’responses and then
counterchecked with the psychologists and families. The coding was then subjected to a peer
review process which involved the researchers and two anthropologists in order to facilitate
inter-coder reliability. (Table 3)
The numerical data regarding the demographic characteristics showed that the majority of the par-
ticipants (85%) were within the age range of 23–28 years; 45% were unmarried, 40% were
married, 10% were separated or divorced, and 5% were widowed. It was found that majority
of the participants (75%) lived in a joint family system, while 25% lived in a nuclear family
system. The majority of the participants (45%) were educated up to and above the tenth grade,
and all the participants were living with their parents. According to the demographics, both
parents of the majority (60%) of the participants were alive.
The drug-related questions revealed that the majority of the participants (80%) were poly-sub-
stance abusers, and 45% had been abusing drugs for over 10 years. A relapse ratio was estimated
by the number of treatments received by individuals from various facilities. Of the participants,
65% had received treatments 1–5 times, 30% were being treated for the ﬁrst time, and 5% had
received treatments 19 times, indicating a high rate of relapse which can be linked to dysfunction
within the family that can be seen in the following analysis. One respondent, who had relapsed
three times and was in the facility for his fourth treatment, stated that he had relapsed because
of ﬁghts with his father.
Table 2. Frequency and percentage of participants according to demographic variables of drug use,
duration of drug use, single substance or multiple substance abuse, number of treatments, and reasons for
Variables Label Frequency (f) Percentage (%)
Drug use Single 4 20.0
Multiple 16 80.0
Duration of abuse Less than a year 0 0
1–5 years 3 15.0
6–10 years 8 40.0
>10 years 9 45.0
Substance abused Single 4 20.0
Multiple 16 80.0
No. of treatments received First 6 30.0
1–5 times 13 65.0
6–10 times 0 0
11–15 times 0 0
16–20 times 1 5.0
Reasons for drugs Single 10 50.0
Multiple 10 50.0
Multiple reasons reported by the respondents Friends 5 25.0
Accident 1 5.0
Curiosity 4 20.0
Note: (N= 20).
824 S. Masood and N. Us Sahar
Referring to the reasons which caused the participants to become involved in substance abuse,
50% cited a single reason while the other 50% stated multiple reasons, of which the company of
peers (indicating peer pressure), curiosity, and stress were commonly cited.
3.1. Thematic analysis
In analyzing the responses and information provided by the participants and veriﬁed by family
members and psychologists during family therapy sessions, the following themes and related sub-
categories presented themselves.
3.1.1. Parental involvement
This theme contains information about family dynamics in terms of functions performed by all
members, as well as information concerning family cohesion, communication patterns, familial
support, decision-making, parental control, and supervision, among other topics.
Spending time with family members. Spending time with family is important. The majority of par-
ticipants (80%) stated that they communicated frequently with their parents on a regular basis, i.e.
every day, and whenever they had time to do so. As one respondent speciﬁcally stated:
Whenever I get the time I talk to my parents
Only 20% of the participants stated that they seldom communicated with their parents. A majority
(70%) of the participants stated that they spent more time with their mothers rather than their
fathers, e.g. a respondent stated:
Table 3. Case studies.
treatments Reason given
Mr Z.A. 21 1st Peers
Mr S. 26 1st Death of elder brother
Mr F. 21 1st Curiosity, peers
Mr T. 25 1st Peers
Mr M.A. 23 2nd Peers, free time
Mr A.A. 28 2nd Peers
Mr S.A.M. 28 1st Curiosity
Mr R.W. 28 2nd Peers
Mr SM 28 2nd Peers
Mr A. 27 1st Peers
Mr R.U. 28 1st Authoritarian father, psycho-social stressors,
victim of child abuse
Mr N.M. 23 4th Due to injury sustained in an accident
Mr K. 28 3rd Peers
Mr A. 27 1st Peers
Mr S.S. 22 1st Peers
Mr N. 23 1st As a mistake
Mr D. 28 19th Curiosity
Mr R. 26 3rd Peers
Mr N.I. 28 4th Peers
Health Psychology & Behavioural Medicine 825
My mother liked spending time with me. My father didn’t.
Over half (55%) of the participants stated that they were closer to their mother than their father,
which can be explained through the cultural context as in Pakistan fathers are reserved in their
affections towards their children.
Mode of communication with parents. Another sub-theme was the mode of communication with
parents, 55% of the participants stated that they communicated with both parents on a one-on-one
basis. In relation to communicating with the father, 15% stated that they did communicate with
their father on one-on-one basis, but also used another family member as mediator (usually the
mother). One of the reasons given by the participants was that the fathers were not willing to
listen to the individuals; hence they approached the mother, e.g. a respondent stated:
My father never bothered to listen to what I had to say. So I told my mother my opinion and she later
conveyed it to my father.
This statement explored the problems in family communication which was further explored and
the following reasons were reported by the participants. One of the reported barriers to effective
communication is the refusal to talk. Though the parents were not reported to ignore their chil-
dren, 60% of the participants reported that when they were angry, the parents stopped communi-
cation in order to avoid further conﬂict.
When I became angry while being intoxicated, my parents stopped talking to me.
The reasons given for arguments were not agreeing on certain things and being beaten, along with
siblings, by the father, e.g. a respondent stated:
Yes, when my father used to beat me and my siblings, my mother used to scream at him to top hitting
Out of the total participants, 65% reported no incidence of arguments involving yelling with
parents. However, 35% of them reported frequent arguments with fathers. Moreover, they
reported their fathers yelling at them frequently. During an interview, a respondent stated:
Frequently, my father used to yell at me, hit and scream at me
Range of issues being discussed with parents. All the participants were aware of the prescribed
family rules such as mobility, social circles, and expenditures; hence the breaking of the rules
826 S. Masood and N. Us Sahar
incited the parents’disapproval. This can be connected to the parents’attempt at controlling the
negative behaviour of the participants. Almost all the participants agreed upon the activities dis-
liked by their parents such as the use of drugs, coming home late, not listening to their parents’
advice, spending money on drugs, selection of friends, refusal to go to school, and poor academic
performance. However, it was found that these rules were not put into practice because the parents
were not assertive in their implementation.
My parents don’t like my friends. They tell me to leave them.
Most of the participants reported a consensus on major decisions such as choice of life partner,
career, and academics. Seventy per cent of the participants agreed that their parents knew how
they felt and thought about any given situation.
They’re parents. Of course they know what I’m thinking and feeling. They can always tell
Pertaining to the communication links between the individuals and their family, 50% of the par-
ticipants stated that they could discuss anything with both their parents. They were given the
freedom to express their opinions and their advice was sought. Only 15% of the participants
stressed that they discussed issues more with their father than their mother, another 15% of the
participants stated that they used to discuss their problems with both of the parents before
being involved in substance abuse, but afterwards they were more comfortable discussing their
problems with an elder sibling (usually a brother) as evident from the following statement:
I can discuss every problem with my parents. I don’t because then they’ll get worried. So I go to my
elder brother for guidance.
Referring to the parents’approval of the friends of the participants, a majority of the participants
(65%) stated that their parents did not approve of their peers as they feared that their children
would get into bad habits such as substance abuse.
My father never liked my friends. He was afraid I would get into bad habits like substance abuse or
Pertaining to parents’knowledge of their whereabouts, 75% of the participants reported that their
parents were aware.
Yes, my father knew where I was. He had spies everywhere. He used to drop by when I least expected
him to, to check up on me.
Health Psychology & Behavioural Medicine 827
Of the participants, 15% stated that their parents had no idea about their child’s social life. A
respondent, upon being asked about his parent’s knowledge of his whereabouts, reported:
No. Only when I needed money from them did I tell them where I was going. Otherwise no one knew
where I was or with whom.
The choice of selecting their own life partner is an important aspect where communication dis-
crepancies can be brought to the surface. It can also be one of the major causes of drug addiction
as reported by participants. In a collective culture like Pakistan, life partner selection is mostly
done by the family as the family provides ﬁnancial, social, and moral support. This is why
most people prefer arranged marriages. In the present study, out of the 40% of married partici-
pants, two-thirds of them had arranged marriages. One of the advantages of an arranged marriage
is social compatibility, where both families work together to keep harmony. Of the total partici-
pants, 75% reported that their opinion on family issues were held in regard and respected. They
stated that their parents were ultimately responsible for making all the decisions.
All participants were focused on their future goals, which included quitting drugs, getting married,
reuniting with their spouses, and ﬁnding secure jobs to support their families. The decision-making
is inﬂuenced by family support and it is this social support which helps in future planning.
Emotional expression. In this section the participants reported the characteristics of their com-
munication styles with their families. The data within this section help in exploring the gaps per-
ceived by the participants in communicating with their families which could possibly lead to
conﬂict and may provide insight into their addiction.
Using profanities. Sixty per cent of the participants admitted to using profane language generally,
which is one of the common characteristics of problematic communication style. Thirty-ﬁve per
cent of them admitted to using profane language with their family, but only under the inﬂuence of
drugs or alcohol, e.g. a respondent stated:
Yes [I curse] sometimes. When I was under the inﬂuence of drugs I used to curse.
They used profanities in conversations with their friends as well as in response to situations. The
rest of the participants denied using profane language.
Being good listeners & speakers. All participants agreed that they were good listeners with whom
family and friends could discuss various problems. They also felt that they were good speakers,
being clear in their expression and maintaining eye contact. However, it was observed that 15% of
the respondents mumbled while conversing with the researcher.
Assertiveness. A majority of the participants reported themselves to be assertive and expressive;
however, discrepancies were found amongst the statements given by the participants pertaining to
communication with their parents and friends. The participants stated outright that they were
assertive, that they were able to say ‘no’to a decision taken by their family, and that they took
responsibility for their actions. However, upon conversing with the researcher, some participants
negated this statement. As recorded, a participant, upon being asked if he expressed his feelings in
828 S. Masood and N. Us Sahar
regard to a given situation, stated:
No. My parents make all the decisions.
Expression of negative emotions and arguments. Ten per cent of the participants stated that they
used drugs as a means to express themselves. They viewed substance abuse as an escape from
reality. Upon being asked how they expressed their negative emotions, most of the participants
(80%) stated that they yelled and shouted.
Presenting Nervous Tics. Forty-ﬁve per cent of the participants reported nervous tics such as nail
biting, smoothing hands over their lips, and playing with their hair. This might be due to the side
effects of the drugs or the medication used in the treatment. One of the reasons stated by a par-
ticipant was that because he used heroin in panni (silver paper), the skin under his nails blackened
and thus biting his nails became a habit.
Yes, I used to bite my nails. That was when I used to use heroin in panni. The skin under my nails used
to be blackened hence I bit my nails out of habit.
The aforementioned analysis revealed parental involvement and emotional expressiveness as two
major components in family communication. It has been further revealed that culture plays an
important role in family dynamics with reference to the major life decisions being taken.
Another aspect identiﬁed was the presence of physical abuse in the family. With reference to
the communication style, it has been noted that the elements of respect and emotional expressive-
ness have been present. This will be further discussed in the following section.
It was found by the researchers that all the participants unanimously agreed in their communi-
cation styles stating that they were assertive, good listeners, and future-oriented. However, it
was found that there were discrepancies among the participants’views and the observations of
the researcher and the psychologists involved in their rehabilitation. The participants sometimes
refused to make eye contact and were not clear in their verbal expression, i.e. they mumbled
answers, which may be due to the effect of the medications they are given for their treatment.
It is the understanding of the researcher, as well as the consulted psychologists, that these dis-
crepancies can be attributed to denial. In the case of drug abuse, impaired insight causes what is
referred to as ‘denial’. Denial of addiction is a common, if not a core, feature of most substance-
use disorders and has been conceptualized as a psychological phenomenon (Rinn, Desai, Rosen-
blatt, & Gastfriend, 2002). The ﬁrst step of treatment is the confrontation of this denial, as
reported by the psychologists.
The ﬁndings of the present research are consistent with previous researches which stated that
the family of a drug addict plays an important role as the causal or aetiological factor for the addic-
tion itself. The main problem reported was with authoritarian fathers and submissive mothers, as
well as lack of communication between parents and children, particularly with their fathers and
during conﬂicts. This has been reﬂected in the thematic analysis under the subsection of spending
Health Psychology & Behavioural Medicine 829
time with family members. It can be inferred from other studies that authoritarian parents, who are
highly demanding but less responsive, tend to make demands on their children but not respond
well to their needs. It can also be inferred that due to this parenting style a communication gap
can develop among the family which prohibits direct communication, especially the expression
of anger (Verdejo-Garcia, Rivas-Perez, Vilar-Lopez, & Perez-Garcia, 2007).
Parental monitoring has been associated with elements of parental control such as imposing
rules and restrictions on children’s activities and associations (Borawski, Ievers-Landis, Love-
green, & Trapl, 2003; Nash, McQueen, & Bray, 2005). Monitoring of adolescents’behaviour,
which includes tracking and surveillance, is an essential parenting skill. A large amount of
studies show that well-monitored youths are less involved in delinquency and other norm-break-
ing behaviours (Cleveland, Feinberg, Osgood, & Moody, 2012; Stattin & Kerr, 2000). The ﬁnd-
ings of the present study are in contradiction with the ﬁndings of the aforementioned studies as
75% of the participants stated that their parents were aware of their whereabouts, and yet, the par-
ticipants were still involved in norm-breaking behaviours. One of the possible reasons for this can
be the lessened mobility restrictions on males in Pakistani culture.
It was observed by the researcher and the psychologists that dysfunction within the family of
an addict was the leading cause of relapse. Lavee and Altus (2001) also noted that individuals in a
dysfunctional family were at a higher risk of relapse than those who were not. It was found by the
researcher that most of the participants (65%) who had relapsed did so because of the problems
they faced within their family, for example communicating directly with the fathers who were
unwilling to listen and talk to their sons. This, in the case of 35% of the participants, resulted
in frequent arguments with their fathers which involved yelling.
In addition to the family being the aetiological factor in addiction, it was found paradoxically
to be part of the cure as well. Repeated admissions to the rehabilitation centres show continued
family support since the families were willing to invest emotionally and ﬁnancially in the
improvement of their sons. In Pakistan choice and ﬁnancial liability are on parent’s part, so
this practice can be used as an indicator of family support in the treatment.
Since the family plays an integral part in the rehabilitation process, the centres included the
component of family therapy into the treatment programme. This will help to integrate the
family and improve communication between the individuals as well as encourage families to
show their support to the addict. Through their support the family can lessen environmental stres-
sors such as peer pressure and help the addict.
It can be stated that if parents and signiﬁcant others identify the signs of addiction at an early
stage, the family can stage an intervention and potentially stop the behaviour before it becomes
worse. The importance of communication between the parents (especially fathers) and children is
stressed as it may be the key link in the detection and prevention of self-destructive acts.
The current study provides an insight into the role played by family in youth’s drug addiction. It
found that parental involvement and emotional expressiveness were two of the major themes
4.2. Limitations and suggestions
The present study aimed to explore the role of family in youth drug addiction, but there are a few
limitations of the study that must be taken into consideration.
First is the time limit. The researcher did not have ample time to conduct the study on a larger
number of participants because of the short time period supplied for this project. Due to this
830 S. Masood and N. Us Sahar
shortage of time, the time spent on one-on-one session with the participants was limited. Hence
unstructured interviews and a deeper exploration into the problems stated by the participants were
The present study is focused only on the role of parents in youth addiction, not taking into
consideration the role of siblings or peers of the addicted. However, the researcher believes
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would come to light for addiction with respect to Pakistan. Other areas of interest as well as
other factors, bio-socio-cultural factors, remain to be explored as well as their contribution to
addiction among youth.
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