“Relations of Substance”: Parenthood and Rehabilitation Procedures

Nikolaos Koukias

Social Worker, MSc Social and Historical Anthropology, PgD Drug Use and Addiction, Head of Counseling Center of Kethea Nostos (Chios)



Purpose: The purpose of the present research is to study and investigate the changes that the family undergoes when a member is confronted with a matter of “addiction” on a substance, as well as the “relationships” that are being developed between the family, the state, society and dependence from the perspective of social anthropology.

Research Design and Method: The present study was conducted in 2016 in the framework of the MSc Postgraduate Program of Studies of the University of the Aegean (School of Social Sciences, Department of Social Anthropology and History) entitled “Social and Historical Anthropology” under the supervision of Prof. Venetia Kancha.

This study is a qualitative research. It was conducted using the open interview method, but in many cases the narrative form was not absent from the interviewee(s).

Participants: The field of research involved parents of addicts who had applied to the KETHEA Mytilene Family Support Unit to receive counseling support for their dependent family member. The research was conducted in the area of KETHEA Mytilene. The participants were randomly selected. The number of parents who were involved in the study was 16 (ten women, six men) aged between 45 and 60 years of age. Eleven of them were married and 5 were divorced / legally separated. Regarding their educational background, parents in their majority were high school graduates.

Findings: The findings emerging from the research lead us to conclude that addiction appears to be an aggravating factor in shaping the organization and functioning of the family. The cultural context plays an important role in the formation and functioning of the family and in the attitude adopted by its members towards the problem of dependence. At the same time, dominant notions of gender and parenthood are reproduced in the cases examined, with mothers being more open to support, while fathers maintaining a more ‘external’ position, emphasizing other issues, such as their work. Concerning the ‘relationship’ developed between the family and the state, families dealing with the issue of dependence are resistant to engaging with the support services provided by local structures, which is mainly related to the family model they have formed. It is also linked to attitudes and perceptions adopted by family members inside and outside their home. Regarding the “relationship” developed between the family and KETHEA, it appears that these two have a different conceptualization. KETHEA, as a drug treatment program, promotes differentiated patterns for parents, while parents try to ‘move on’, to change. The resulting transformation requires time and continuous effort. The perceptions and culture of the local community work negatively in the family environment facing the problem of dependency and make it difficult for family members to mobilize and respond to the problem.


Keywords: Family, Parenthood, Substance Dependence, rehabilitation procedures

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