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Abstract

The research described in this paper resulted from a-collaborative multi-centre study of the relatives of problem drug users involving six practitioners and researchers, in four centres within the south-west of England. The objective of this research was simply to interview 50 close relatives of identified problem drug users, with the identification occurring through clinics and self-help groups. Quantitative and qualitative results show that large numbers of these relatives reported many negative experiences. The partners of illicit drug users reported both more and differently patterned problematic behaviours than those of prescribed tranquilliser users. The partners of illicit users also reported different problems to those of the parents. Relatives reported many negative effects in terms of how they viewed the drug user, and how the experiences had affected their health. They also described various coping mechanisms, and the extent of the support which they had received. The results are discussed in terms of coping, and similarity with research into the families of problem drinkers.