Manuela Pires Rocha

Manuela Pires Rocha

Federal University of São Paul, Brazil

Title: Family members affected by a relative’s substance misuse looking for social support: Who are they?


Manuela Pires Rocha: Medical Doctor from Pontificia Universidade Católica de Campinas, attending the 3rd year of residence in Psychiatry at OSS Hospital Santa Marcelina, São Paulo.



This study proposes to describe family members in the city of Sao Paulo that are currently seeking support in mutual self-help groups to deal with a substance misuse relative. Method: Five hundred participants (one participant by family) completed a structured questionnaire containing socio-demographic information, length of time took for seeking help, and where they search help. Participants were recruited in the mutual self-help group ‘Amor Exigente’ in the city of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Results: Parents of substance misusers  counted as the largest group of family members. It took an average time of 3.7 years for the family members to discover their relatives’ substance misuse 42% had then sought help immediately; it took an average of 2.6 years for the remaining 58% of the sample  to seek some form of support. Physical and psychological forms of distress reported by the families that led to conflicts are the ones associated to the unreliable characteristics of the substance misusers, difficulty to communicate, problems related to money, the provocative attitudes and physical fights. Discussion: A belief that the substance use of their relatives was just a transient problem or that they could cope with the situation by themselves were among the most indicated reasons for delaying seeking help.  Conclusion: Findings stress the importance of implementing services that take into account the different difficulties that families have in finding help to deal with the substance misuse relative.