What is it about?

According to the parents the interaction with the children is dominated by the children’s destructive drug use which the parents are trying to stop. This gives rise to more or less severe conflicts. During this verbal argument, the child grows ever more agitated and finally crosses the line between an ordinary argument and abusive action against the parent. The interviews portray insults (verbal abuse) and threats (emotional/psychological abuse) as recurring elements in the interaction with the adult child, whereas causing damage (financial abuse) and, in particular, violence (physical abuse) are less common. Such incidents are in retrospect excused by the fact that the child was on drugs. The parents’ accounts make a clear distinction between the child as under the influence of drugs and the child as sober. On drugs, the child is self-destructive, unreliable and irritable, a fake human being, whereas the sober child is a genuine person that the parents love and are ready to make great sacrifices for.

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Why is it important?

Parents who are subjected to abuse by their adult children with drug problems are crime victims who have received inadequate help and attention. It is important that the authorities and NGOs better identify this group and do what they can to offer them help and support.


The idea of the study came up many years ago when I was working as a social worker. Then I got into contact with parents who were desperate to find solutions for the problems with the drug use of their children. Through our interviews with parents in this project we were able to highlight their situation and to get an insight into their dayly life, where worries about the life situation of their children took a large part.

Bengt Svensson
Malmo Hogskola

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Parents’ experiences of abuse by their adult children with drug problems, Nordic Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, November 2019, SAGE Publications, DOI: 10.1177/1455072519883464.
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