Applying Family Theories in the Assessment and Treatment of Alcohol Abuse

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            Adolescents and young adults in the household have the greatest prevalence of substance dependence. Individuals with a history of drinking or substance dependence in the household are often more likely to face alcohol-related problems (Freeman, 2001). It has long been established that family members of a substance addict are more likely to develop alcohol addiction issues. Health profiles in family substance addiction suggest that the accumulation of alcohol dependency in the family is partially related to hereditary factors (Freeman, 2001). There is also documentation of an increased family mix of psychoactive drug abuse and misuse (Grant & Litvak, 1997). A number of research have reported higher levels of alcohol dependency and/or misuse among family members of drug offenders relative to family members of alcohol-dependent hereditary disorders play a major role in substance dependence, depending on the health features of family alcohol violence. Twin, adoption and family studies endorse the family transition of opioid and alcohol dependency and the resulting genetic variables (Stelle & Scott, 2007).

Epidemiological research has demonstrated that alcohol dependence is often aggravated by comorbid psychiatric disorders (Freeman, 2001). It has been discovered that 47 percent of alcohol abusers have another mental problem, and a large fraction of this comorbidity is attributed to substance abuse (Freeman, 2001, 62). Individuals with mental health disorders, like bipolar disorder, depression, or anxiety are also classified as high risk, since alcohol may be exploited as a way to self-medicate (Stelle & Scott, 2007). Lastly, alcohol addiction includes all the signs of alcohol abuse, yet it also includes another component: physical addiction to alcohol (Stelle & Scott, 2007). If an individual depends on alcohol to live or sense a physical urge to consume alcohol, s/he is considered an alcoholic.

Applying Family Theories in the Assessment and Treatment of Alcohol Abuse

            The introductory section already presented a summary of the health profile of the high-risk family group. The following sections will discuss the assessment of familial alcohol abuse using the nursing theories of Dorothea Orem and Jean Watson, the appropriate nursing intervention strategies using different components of the family systems theory, and the role of the advanced practice nurse as a case manager of familial alcohol abuse.

Applying Dorothea Orem’s and Jean Watson’s Theories in the Assessment of Familial Alcohol Abuse

  • Coordinated School Health Components (2009). ‘Proposed Healthy People 2020 Objectives,’ pp. 1-11.
  • Freeman, E. (2001). Substance Abuse Intervention, Prevention, Rehabilitation, and Systems Change Strategies: Helping Individuals, Families, and Groups to Empower Themselves. New York: Columbia University Press.
  • Grant, M. & Litvak, J. (1997). Drinking Patterns and their Consequences. UK: Taylor & Francis.
  • Sitzman, K. (2002). “Interbeing and Mindfulness: A Bridge to Understanding Jean Watson’s Theory of Human Caring,” Nursing Education Perspectives, 23(3), 118+
  • Stelle, C. & Scott, J. (2007). Alcohol Abuse by Older Family Members: A Family Systems Analysis of Assessment and Intervention. New York: The Haworth Press

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