Family Communication in the Context of Substance use: What do We Know and What Measures We can Take?


  • Ankita Chattopadhyay Department of Psychiatry and National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre (NDDTC), All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, India
  • Gaurishanker Kaloiya Department of Psychiatry and National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre (NDDTC), All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, India
  • Siddharth Sarkar Department of Psychiatry and National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre (NDDTC), All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, India


Family, Substance Use, Systems theory, Parenting


Substance use disorders do have a significant impact of the family. Alternately, it has also been seen that certain family characteristics and family environment may have an important contribution to the development of substance use disorder. Thus, families have an intricate relationship with substance use disorder, at times, facilitating substance use; at other times, preventing from substance use; and at still other times, being affected by substance use disorders. Communication in the family is an important consideration in the relationship of substance use disorder and its impact on the family. Altered communication patters have been noted in the families, while at the same time, many interventions have focused on altering family communications to improve outcomes. This narrative review discusses the relationship of the family communication and substance use disorders. The review discusses the theoretical considerations of family communication, the influence of communication on substance use disorder, substance specific communications, influence of substance use on communication and the role of communication in family-based interventions. The literature emerging from India on the topic has also been discussed.


Download data is not yet available.


Segrin C, Flora J. Family Communication. Routledge; 2018.

Dance FE. Human communication theory: Original essays. 1967.

Whitchurch GG, Constantine LL. Systems theory. In: Boss PG, Doherty WJ, LaRossa R, Schumm WR, Steinmetz SK, eds. Sourcebook of Family Theories and Methods. Plenum Press; 1993:325-352.

Socha TJ. Communication in Family Units: Studying the First “Group.” In: Frey LR, Gouran D, Poole MS, eds. The Handbook of Group Communication Theory and Research. SAGE; 1999:475-492.

Von Bertalanffy L. The history and status of general systems theory. Academy of management journal. 1972;15(4):407-426.

Watzlawick P, Beavin J. Some formal aspects of communication. American Behavioral Scientist. 1967;10(8):4-8.

Bochner A, Eisenberg E. Family Process: System Perspectives on Family Communication. In: Berger CR, Chaffee SH, eds. Handbook of Communication Science. 1st ed. SAGE; 1987:540-563.

Klein DM, White JM. Family Theories: An Introduction. Sage Publications, Inc; 1996:xxii, 294.

Mead GH, Schubert C. Mind, Self and Society. University of Chicago press; 1934.

LaRossa R, Reitzes DC. Symbolic interactionism and family studies. In: Sourcebook of Family Theories and Methods. Springer; 2009:135-166.

Cheng SH, Kuo WH. Family socialization of ethnic identity among Chinese American pre-adolescents. Journal of Comparative Family Studies. 2000;31(4):463-484.

Bohannon JR, Blanton PW. Gender role attitudes of American mothers and daughters over time. The Journal of social psychology. 1999;139(2):173-179.

Vasquez K, Durik AM, Hyde JS. Family and Work: Implications of Adult Attachment Styles. Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2002;28(7):874-886. doi:10.1177/014616720202800702

Cohn DA, Silver DH, Cowan CP, Cowan PA, Pearson J. Working Models of Childhood Attachment and Couple Relationships. Journal of Family Issues. 1992;13(4):432-449. doi:10.1177/019251392013004003

Feeney JA, Noller P, Roberts N. Attachment and close relationships. In: Close Relationships: A Sourcebook. Sage Publications, Inc; 2000:185-201. doi:10.4135/9781452220437.n14

Baxter LA, Montgomery BM. Rethinking communication in personal relationships from a dialectical perspective. In: Handbook of Personal Relationships: Theory, Research and Interventions, 2nd Ed. John Wiley & Sons Inc; 1997:325-349.

Baxter LA, Montgomery BM. Relating: Dialogues and Dialectics. Guilford Press; 1996.

Oetting ER, Donnermeyer JF. Primary Socialization Theory: The Etiology of Drug Use and Deviance. I. Substance Use & Misuse. 1998;33(4):995-1026. doi:10.3109/10826089809056252

Baumrind D. Authoritative parenting revisited: History and current status. In: Authoritative Parenting: Synthesizing Nurturance and Discipline for Optimal Child Development. American Psychological Association; 2013:11-34. doi:10.1037/13948-002

Rueter MA, Koerner AF. The effect of family communication patterns on adopted adolescent adjustment. Journal of Marriage and Family. 2008;70(3):715-727.

Hamon JD, Schrodt P. Do Parenting Styles Moderate the Association Between Family Conformity Orientation and Young Adults’ Mental Well-Being? Journal of Family Communication. 2012;12(2):151-166. doi:10.1080/15267431.2011.561149

Hirschi T, Gottfredson M. Substantive positivism and the idea of crime. Rationality and Society. 1990;2(4):412-428.

Kadden RM, Litt MD. The role of self-efficacy in the treatment of substance use disorders. Addict Behav. 2011;36(12):1120-1126. doi:10.1016/j.addbeh.2011.07.032

Cavaiola AA, DeSordi EG. Locus of control in drinking driving offenders and non-offenders. Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly. 2000;18(4):63-73.

Cavaiola AA, Strohmetz DB. Perception of risk for subsequent drinking and driving related offenses and locus of control among first-time DUI offenders. Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly. 2009;28(1):52-62.

Choi HJ, Miller-Day M, Shin Y, et al. Parent Prevention Communication Profiles and Adolescent Substance Use: A Latent Profile Analysis and Growth Curve Model. J Fam Commun. 2017;17:15-32. doi:10.1080/15267431.2016.1251920

Kam JA, Middleton AV. The Associations Between Parents’ References to Their Own past Substance Use and Youth’s Substance-Use Beliefs and Behaviors: a Comparison of Latino and European American Youth. Human Communication Research. 2013;39(2):208-229. doi:10.1111/hcre.12001

Van Der Vorst H, Burk WJ, Engels RCME. The role of parental alcohol-specific communication in early adolescents’ alcohol use. Drug and Alcohol Dependence. 2010;111(3):183-190. doi:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2010.03.023

Miller-Day M. Talking to Youth About Drugs: What Do Late Adolescents Say About Parental Strategies? Family Relations. 2008;57(1):1-12. doi:10.1111/j.1741-3729.2007.00478.x

Miller-Day M, Dodd AH. Toward a Descriptive Model of Parent–Offspring Communication about Alcohol and Other Drugs. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. 2004;21(1):69-91. doi:10.1177/0265407504039846

Kam JA, Potocki B, Hecht ML. Encouraging Mexican-Heritage Youth to Intervene When Friends Drink: The Role of Targeted Parent-Child Communication Against Alcohol. Communication Research. 2014;41(5):644-664. doi:10.1177/0093650212446621

Miller-Day M, Kam JA. More than just openness: developing and validating a measure of targeted parent-child communication about alcohol. Health Commun. 2010;25(4):293-302. doi:10.1080/10410231003698952

Velleman RD, Templeton LJ, Copello AG. The role of the family in preventing and intervening with substance use and misuse: a comprehensive review of family interventions, with a focus on young people. Drug and Alcohol Review. 2005;24(2):93-109. doi:10.1080/09595230500167478

Quinn L. Mobilising Parents. Druglink. March 1996.

O’Connor L, Best R, Best R, Rowley J. Drugs, Drugs Education, and Young People—Missed Opportunities. Unpublished report London: Roehampton Institute. 1997.

Robertson N. Speaking the same language: Fast Forward has started working with parents. Druglink. 1996;11:11-11.

Olsson CA, Coffey C, Toumbourou JW, Bond L, Thomas L, Patton G. Family risk factors for cannabis use: a population-based survey of Australian secondary school students. Drug and Alcohol Review. 2003;22(2):143-152.

Kosterman R, Hawkins JD, Spoth R, Haggerty KP, Zhu K. Effects of a preventive parent-training intervention on observed family interactions: proximal outcomes from preparing for the drug free years. Journal of Community Psychology. 1997;25(4):337-352. doi:10.1002/(SICI)1520-6629(199707)25:4<337::AID-JCOP3>3.0.CO;2-R

Brown JH, Christensen DN. Family Therapy: Theory and Practice. Wadsworth Publishing Company; 1999.

Lander L, Howsare J, Byrne M. The impact of substance use disorders on families and children: from theory to practice. Soc Work Public Health. 2013;28(3-4):194-205. doi:10.1080/19371918.2013.759005

Kelley ML, Braitman A, Henson JM, Schroeder V, Ladage J, Gumienny L. Relationships among depressive mood symptoms and parent and peer relations in collegiate children of alcoholics. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry. 2010;80(2):204.

Haverfield MC, Theiss JA, Leustek J. Characteristics of Communication in Families of Alcoholics. Journal of Family Communication. 2016;16(2):111-127. doi:10.1080/15267431.2016.1146284

Vernig PM. Family roles in homes with alcohol-dependent parents: an evidence-based review. Subst Use Misuse. 2011;46(4):535-542. doi:10.3109/10826084.2010.501676

Crowley JL, Miller LE. How People with Opioid Use Disorder Communicatively Experience Family: A Family Systems Approach. Journal of Family Communication. 2020;20(4):298-312. doi:10.1080/15267431.2020.1819283

Barnes H, Olson DH. Parent-adolescent communication, family inventories. Family social science, University of Minnesota. 1982.

Barnes HL, Olson DH. Parent-Adolescent Communication and the Circumplex Model. Child Development. 1985;56(2):438-447. doi:10.2307/1129732

Crowley JL, Miller LE. “Who’s gonna love a junkie? But he does”: Exploring couples’ identity negotiations and dyadic coping in the context of opioid use disorder. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. 2020;37(5):1634-1652. doi:10.1177/0265407520903385

Afifi TD. ‘Feeling Caught’ in Stepfamilies: Managing Boundary Turbulence through Appropriate Communication Privacy Rules. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. 2003;20(6):729-755. doi:10.1177/0265407503206002

Middleton AV. Relational Communication about Substance Use. In: Berger CR, Roloff ME, Wilson SR, Dillard JP, Caughlin J, Solomon D, eds. The International Encyclopedia of Interpersonal Communication. 1st ed. Wiley; 2015:1-9. doi:10.1002/9781118540190.wbeic228

Meyers RJ, Miller WR, Smith JE, Tonigan JS. A randomized trial of two methods for engaging treatment-refusing drug users through concerned significant others. J Consult Clin Psychol. 2002;70(5):1182-1185.

Le Poire BA, Hallett JS, Erlandson KT. An Initial Test of Inconsistent Nurturing as Control Theory:How Partners of Drug Abusers Assist Their Partners’ Sobriety. Hum Commun Res. 2000;26(3):432-457. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2958.2000.tb00764.x

Rangarajan S, Kelly L. Family communication patterns, family environment, and the impact of parental alcoholism on offspring self-esteem. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. 2006;23(4):655-671.

Pennebaker JW. Opening up: The Healing Power of Confiding in Others. William Morrow & Company; 1990.

Ryan WP. Treatment issues with adult children of alcoholics. Psychoanalytic Psychology. 1991;8(1):69-82. doi:10.1037/h0079248

Landau J, Garrett J, Shea RR, Stanton MD, Brinkman-Sull D, Baciewicz G. Strength in numbers: The ARISE method for mobilizing family and network to engage substance abusers in treatment. The American journal of drug and alcohol abuse. 2000;26(3):379-398.

Landau J, Stanton MD, Brinkman-Sull D, et al. Outcomes with the ARISE approach to engaging reluctant drug-and alcohol-dependent individuals in treatment. The American journal of drug and alcohol abuse. 2004;30(4):711-748.

Liddle HA. Multidimensional family therapy: A science-based treatment system. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy. 2010;31(2):133-148.

Henggeler SW, Rowland MD, Randall J, et al. Home-based multisystemic therapy as an alternative to the hospitalization of youths in psychiatric crisis: clinical outcomes. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 1999;38(11):1331-1339. doi:10.1097/00004583-199911000-00006

Sarkar S, Patra BN, Kattimani S, others. Substance use disorder and the family: An Indian perspective. Medical Journal of Dr DY Patil University. 2016;9(1):7-14.

Bhatti RS, Subba Krishna DK, Ageira BL. Validation of family interaction patterns scale. Indian J Psychiatry. 1986;28(3):211-216.

Pandian RD, Ranganathan M. Family interaction pattern and abstinence among persons with alcohol dependence syndrome. International Research Journal of Social Sciences. 2017;6(8):23-26.

Smith DC, Cleeland L, Middleton A, Godley MD. Willingness and appropriateness of peers participating in emerging adults’ substance misuse treatment. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment. 2013;45(1):148-154. doi:10.1016/j.jsat.2013.01.008

Sarkar S, Kaloiya GS, others. Family-based interventions for substance use disorders must look at the local needs and service delivery. Journal of Mental Health and Human Behaviour. 2019;24(1):1-7.




How to Cite

Chattopadhyay, A., Kaloiya, G., & Sarkar, S. (2022). Family Communication in the Context of Substance use: What do We Know and What Measures We can Take?. Indian Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 2(02), 47–56. Retrieved from