Home > My nest is full: portraits of multigenerational households of families living with or recovering from addiction.

Whyte, Monica (2021) My nest is full: portraits of multigenerational households of families living with or recovering from addiction. PhD thesis, University of Bedfordshire.

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This study explores an area of systemic family-therapy practice in a public addiction service in Ireland with experts by experience whose family lives have been affected by addiction issues relating to alcohol. As a systemic family therapist working in an alcohol service, I noticed a change in the pattern of affected family members (AFMs) who were accessing our alcohol treatment service. Parents of adult drinkers who had returned home to live with them or who had never moved out of their family home were seeking services for themselves and their family members. I felt that this was not an isolated issue but a significant systemic change in the pattern of family members attending alcohol-addiction services that was not evident in the literature on addiction to date. Within this research, I set out to address this gap by creating a polyphonic, layered account of this issue from many positions in the system: the AFMs’ position and the professional therapists’ and organisational and commissioning position. This study involved the recruitment of experts by experience in two areas: AFMs and professional counsellor-therapists. Six participants were recruited for the study, and treatment demand indicator data from 11 countries was obtained. Research was conducted using three processes: (1) in-depth interviews using a teller-based interview methodology were conducted with the research participants; (2) the data generated through this process was transcribed and analysed using thematic and narrative analysis; and (3) quantitative treatment demand indicator (TDI) data from addiction services nationally and internationally was analysed using statistical package for social sciences (SPSS) to identify and profile the population of persons in an addictive relationship with alcohol (PARs) who live with parents or other family members within the TDI data. Narrative portraits, constructed in a collaborative process with the AFMs, brought forth the themes identified in thematic and narrative analysis of the interview data. This research uses a postmodern, qualitative, theoretical lens that facilitates inquiry into professional clinical practice. It contributes thereby to the movement towards practice-based research with vulnerable populations in health-care settings.

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