Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Science in Family Sciences (MSFS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis


Agriculture, Food and Environment


Family Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Alexander Elswick


Substance use disorders (SUD) are a pervasive public health problem facing families in the United States. Although families are frequently urged to support loved ones who have SUD and cautioned against enabling them, there is a dearth of literature that distinguishes between supporting and enabling. Through qualitative interviews, this phenomenological study examined the experiences of eight parents with adult children with SUD who were currently in recovery. Five themes emerged from the data including: (a) living in despair, (b) addiction and recovery knowledge, (c) support group philosophy, (d) coping with addiction, and (e) differentiation. The results from this study suggest that, although the differences between enabling and support are not well-understood, family members develop functional boundaries to support their loved ones through increased understanding of addiction and lived experiences.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)