Joan Jurkowski, LCPC|
Using Bowen family systems theory as a guide, the researcher examined whether or not frequent family contacts correlated with successful recovery from heroin addiction. In addition to family relationships, other demographic and treatment factors were compared. Bowen theory was used as a model for a theory of addiction. This theory views symptoms as influenced by a multitude of factors including anxiety, family relationship patterns, and position in the family. Emotional cutoff, one of the theory's concepts, was addressed in the study. One hundred and ten heroin addicts were interviewed and admitted to a small residential drug treatment program in Baltimore, Maryland. Many of the subjects had daily contact and/or lived with their mothers, indicating a strong attachment to the mother. Contact with their fathers and extended family was comparatively limited. Despite the hypothesis, frequent family contact did not seem to influence, either positively or negatively, whether a subject was abstinent after treatment or relapsed. In fact, most people did not complete treatment. Subjects who completed treatment were all drug free at one month follow-up. Previous employment and absence of prior psychiatric hospitalization also correlated with abstinence. Ultimately, it appeared that treatment effectiveness was associated with individuals with responsible and independent behaviors, regardless of their family contacts.