“It was Bad to See My [Child] Doing this”: Mothers’ Experiences of Living with Adolescents with Substance Abuse Problems



This paper explores mothers’ experiences of living with an adolescent with substance use problems; an underresearched topic of inquiry worldwide. Specifically, we were interested in the stressors that mothers face and how these stressors influenced their subjective wellbeing. A qualitative, phenomenological approach was adopted where five mother-adolescent pairs were recruited from two adolescent substance abuse treatment centres to participate in 1:1 in-depth interviews using a lifegrid tool. Interpretative phenomenological analysis revealed that adolescent’s substance abuse produced several stressful life events, such as adolescent misconduct, family conflict and financial burdens that provoked feelings of hopelessness, guilt, self-blame, worry, shame, anger, and signs of depression. Understanding mothers’ experiences is essential to the development of informed support interventions for mothers of adolescents troubled by substance abuse. We conclude this paper by discussing the research and practice implications of our findings.


Adolescent substance use Families Mothers experiences Phenomenology Stress Qualitative 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Human and Social DevelopmentHuman Sciences Research CouncilCato ManorSouth Africa
  2. 2.School of Applied Human Sciences; PsychologyUniversity of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN)GlenwoodSouth Africa

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