Coping, social support and adjustment in the children of heroin addicts
Seracini, Angela Maria
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This study examined the relationship of coping behavior and social support to psychological adjustment and substance use behavior in 97 children of heroin addicts in methadone treatment. Subjects ranged in age from nine to eighteen.;The principal hypotheses of the study were that: (1) stress, operationalized as negative life events, would contribute to poor outcome in these children; (2) the use of certain coping strategies--behavioral, cognitive, and support-seeking from adults--would be related to positive psychosocial adjustment and lower levels of substance use; (3) the use of other coping strategies--avoidance, anger, helplessness and self-blame--would be associated with poor psychosocial adjustment and higher levels of substance use; (4) broadly conceptualized avoidant coping would be associated with poor outcome; (5) perceived social support would be associated with the use of support-seeking as a coping strategy; (6) a high level of perceived social support from adults would be associated with more positive outcomes.;Coping behavior and perceived social support were assessed through self-report inventories. Psychosocial adjustment was measured through structured clinical interviews conducted by trained clinician-interviewers. Substance use data were based on child and adolescent self-reports.;The results of the study indicate that avoidance, self-blame, anger, helplessness ("giving up") and broadly conceptualized avoidant coping are strongly associated with poor psychosocial adjustment in the children of heroin addicts. Anger coping and broadly categorized avoidant coping were also associated with higher levels of substance use. Stress (negative life events) was found to contribute to poor adjustment in these children. Perceived social support was found to be related to the use of support-seeking as a coping strategy.;Hypotheses regarding the association of perceived social support to psychological adjustment were not confirmed. However, the findings of the study suggest a protective effect of perceived adult support in terms of early substance use. In addition, a high level of perceived social support was related to more "active/approach" and support-seeking coping and less avoidant coping.;Additionally, current parental substance abuse and psychiatric disorder were associated with lower levels of support-seeking coping and "active/approach" coping and more avoidant coping in children in this sample.