The primary aim of this study was to compare family structures and functions in male patients dependent on heroin and normal controls.
Eighty patients and 20 controls were recruited from inpatient units at 2 teaching hospitals in Mansoura, Egypt. A predesigned questionnaire was administered to assess family functioning (self-reports), and the DSM IV clinical criteria were used to assess psychopathology.
A wide range of family dysfunctions was reported by these patients: parental separation/divorce was higher in the group of dependents compared with the control group (18.8% vs. 10%), having a step mother (31.3% vs. 15%), the main caring person in the family was father (11.3% vs. 0%), mother (8.8% vs. 35%), or both parents (33.8% vs. 60%). Positive family history for substance abuse was significantly higher among heroin users (siblings 12.5% vs. 5%; father 6.3% vs. 5%; mother 3.8% vs. 0%; both parents 15% vs. 5%). Negative feelings toward parents were common in heroin users. In addition, perceptions of a negative attitude from parents were also higher. Moreover, aggressive response as a result of unacceptable behaviors was higher among heroin users: verbal aggression (12.5 vs. 0%), physical aggression (16.3% vs. 0%). Furthermore, religious affiliation was more likely to be less in heroin users' families as 61.3% compared with 85% of nonusers' families with marginally significant differences.
The results of this study indicate that family dysfunctions are common in this group of patients. This will need to be considered in the treatment of this group of patients.
*Department of Medicine, Al-Azhar University, Dumyat
†Department of Medicine, Suez Canal University
‡Department of Medicine, Mansoura University, Egypt
Reprints: Hamdy Fouad Moselhy, MBBCH, MSc, MD, MRCPsych, Department of Psychiatry and Behaviour Sciences, UAE University, AL Ain P O Box 17 666 (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).