Prevalence and frequency of problems of concerned family members with a substance-using loved one

Lois A. Benishek, Kimberly C. Kirby, Karen Leggett Dugosh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Background: Limited research has examined the prevalence and frequency of specific problems of concerned family members and significant others (CSOs) of alcohol- or substance-using individuals (SUIs). Objectives: We surveyed CSOs of SUIs to determine the prevalence and frequency of their problems and explored whether relationship to the SUI, gender of the CSO, or living arrangements altered problem prevalence and frequency. Methods: Non-substance-using CSOs (n = 110) completed the Significant Other Survey, which asks about problems in seven domains (emotional; family; relationship; financial; health; violence; legal). Problem outcomes were compared based on the CSO's relationship to the SUI (partner or spouse vs. parent), gender of the CSO (male vs. female), and living arrangements of the CSO and the SUI (residing together vs. residing apart). Results: Problems were prevalent with at least two-thirds of the participants endorsing one or more problems in all but the legal domain. They also occurred frequently, with CSOs reporting problems on one-third to one-half of the past 30 days, in all but the violence and legal domains. Problems tended to be greater for CSOs who were partners, females, or living with the SUI. Conclusion: CSOs experience frequent problems in a wide range of life domains and the types of difficulties they experience appear to differ based on type of relationship, gender, and their living arrangement relative to the SUI. Scientific Significance: This investigation expands our understanding of the specific problems that CSOs face. The findings have important implications for treatment and health policy regarding these individuals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)82-88
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2011
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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