Despite a decrease in substance use among teens, alcohol and substance use has remained high among young adults. Young adult use of illicit substances is particularly concerning. Parents can play an important role in substance use intervention and prevention, but their efforts are sometimes unsuccessful. Therefore, it is important to consider how parents respond to and communicate about their young adult children’s substance use disorder. Most research has privileged confrontation and direct communication as effective coping responses, but evidence suggests that effectiveness hinges on the meanings interactants ascribe to behavior. Through qualitative interviews, the current study develops normative theory regarding parents’ communication challenges and strategies in response to their young adult child’s substance use disorder. Parents’ challenges center on the intersection of support with their own substance use history; others’ divergent views on substance use; uncertainty in illness; relational closeness and harmony; and illness features. Results are discussed in terms of implications for helping parents respond to their young adult child’s substance use disorder.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology