Drug Abusing Fathers

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Drug Abusing Fathers
The purpose of this study is to ascertain the affects of drug-abusing fathers on
the drug usage of their young adolescent children. A special targeted population
were chosen for this study; they are the children of drug-abusing fathers who
are HIV-positive or at risk for becoming HIV-positive. The major factors used to
determine the dependent measure of adolescent marijuana use include certain drug
abusing father attributes (i.e., illegal drug use, HIV status, and methods of
coping), and adolescent personality which is directly affected by the
father-adolescent relationship and environmental factors (see pathway to
adolescent marijuana use). The focus of this paper will be on the influences of
parent-child relationship, father’s marijuana usage and HIV status of the
father on the adolescent’s marijuana use. These chosen domains (i.e., set of
related variables) are a part of the study needed to determine the pattern of
relationship between father drug use and adolescent drug use. This research is
an extension of an earlier study of the psychosocial factors related to the

AIDS-risk behaviors and methods of coping among male injection drug users [e.g.,

1]. By focusing on the parental approach, it is hope that this information will
allow a father to be a more effective parent and assist him in raising his
children in a way that they wouldn’t need to turn to drugs to cope with
life’s difficulties (i.e., having a drug abusing father that is at risk of
becoming HIV positive). Methods Participants: Participants were male volunteers
recruited from AIDS clinics and methadone maintenance treatment clinics, with a
history of drug abuse (i.e., must have engaged in either injection drug use or
another form of illicit drug abuse during the past five years). Only those
volunteers who agreed to be interviewed along with one of their 13-20-year-old
children were recruited for participation. In order to qualify for participation
in the study, the men had to be either living with the child or have seen the
child at least four times in the past year (majority of the children live with
the mother). A total of one hundred and one father-child pairs participated in
this study; 71 identified themselves as African-American and 27 identified
themselves as White (the other three identified themselves as other). All father
participants had used intravenous drugs or illicit drugs (other than marijuana
or in addition to marijuana) by a non-injection route of administration within
the past five years. Participants that were not considered for this study
include those who had AIDS dementia, those who were too sick to participate in
the study, and those who had a major psychiatric disorder (i.e., bipolar
disorder or schizophrenia). Each patient voluntarily reported his own HIV
status. Over 98% of the subjects’ reports of their HIV status were confirmed
by the ELISA (Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay) and the Western Blot tests. Of
the 101 father participants, 38% were HIV positive and 62% were HIV negative.

Only children who were already aware of their fathers’ HIV status were
qualified to participate in the study. Procedure: After providing informed
consent, each father-child pair was interviewed for approximately four hours
using a structured questionnaire. The interviewers were either counselors or
social workers at an AIDS clinic or a methadone maintenance treatment clinic and
had extensive experience working with substance abusers and/or HIV positive
patients. Every attempt was made to match the participants and the interviewers
in terms of their ethnic backgrounds. The interviews were conducted privately
and the confidentiality of the data was strictly preserved. Each father-child
pair participant was given $50 to compensate for his/her time and expenses.

Measures: The scales used in this study were based on their item (question)
inter-correlation. These scales were grouped into four domains: Father’s
attributes, father-child relationship, adolescent’s personality, and
environmental factors. The father attributes include his HIV status, illegal
drug use, and methods of coping with HIV or the risk of having HIV. The measure
of the father’s illegal drug use was derived from a combined score of the
father’s report of his illegal drug use and the child’s report of the
father’s illegal drug use. It is found in previous studies that by combining
the parent and children’s responses to measures provides a greater
predictability than using one source alone. The father-child relationship domain
include measures of warmth/affection, parenting variables (such as mother’s
parenting style and father’s parenting style such as rules and discipline),
child’s identification with both parents (admiration, emulation), father-child
conflict, and the amount of time the father and child spent together. Except for
the child’s identification with the father scale, which is solely from

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