Perceived marital and family environment of opiate addicts

Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse. 1984;10(4):491-501. doi: 10.3109/00952998409001487.


Addicts have described their family environment as providing inadequate modeling of social and role skills, while having high expectations for achievement. These self-reports have not been compared to either the reports of other family members or observer ratings of addict families. Observer ratings are important because addicts have also described their families as having significantly less conflict than normative families. We administered the Moos Family Environment Scale (FES) to 73 addicts and found that our addicts' scores supported the previous descriptions of addicts' perceived family environment. Addicts' perceived family environment differed from normative samples. They perceived their family as providing little preparation for social roles, while expecting high achievement. When addicts' wives or mothers completed the FES (n = 27), they disagreed with the addicts' perceptions of having high expectations for achievement in the marriage or family. Relative to their mothers and wives, the addicts seemed to be insensitive to the lack of effective organization and limit setting in either their family of origin or marriage. However, the mothers and wives agreed with the addicts in reporting low levels of conflict, but behavioral ratings of the married addicts and their wives (n = 16) showed a poor correlation between the observed behavior and the couples' perceptions. Furthermore, the level of conflict appeared to be above rather than below normative samples. Thus, addicts' perceptions of their family environment demonstrated significant discrepancies from the perceptions of their wives and mothers and from ratings of their marital behavior.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Family*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marriage*
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / psychology*
  • Psychological Tests
  • Role
  • Social Environment*
  • Social Perception