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Subst Use Misuse. 2000 Mar;35(4):473-502.

The family and alcohol: effects of excessive drinking and conceptualizations of spouses over recent decades.

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School of Psychology, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, United Kingdom.


There is much debate in the addiction literature about the extent to which excessive drinking affects nondrinking family members. The issue is considered in this review by examining and evaluating research relating to the effects of drinking on children, family systems, and partners of drinkers. The latter group have, historically, been blamed and apologized for their partner's drinking, although more recent theories have adopted a stress and coping paradigm, thus normalizing individuals and their behaviors. Conceptualizations of spouses over the last five decades are described and evaluated in the second part of the review. Finally, the review considers the impact of the recent stress and coping paradigm on clinical interventions for excessive drinkers and their families, and suggestions are made for future research.

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