Depression, anxiety, and stress from substance use disorder among family members in Iceland

First published: 10 May 2019 | Last updated: 20 May 2019

This research was designed to explore the extent to which the use of alcohol or drugs by one member of a family affects the psychosocial state of other family members. The instrument used for this purpose is the Depression Anxiety Stress Scale (DASS), which is designed to measure those three related mental states. It was administered to 143 participants during the time they were taking part in a four-week group therapy programme for relatives of Substance Use disorder (SUD) at The Icelandic National Centre for Addiction Treatment (SÁÁ) from August 2015 to April 2016. The subscales of the DASS for depression, anxiety, and stress determined by the responses of these participants were examined based on which family member—parent, child, partner, or sibling presented the behaviour associated with SUD. The results indicated that 36% or more of the respondents in all three subscales were measured as having average, serious, or very serious depression, anxiety, and/or stress. This is higher than in general population studies in Iceland, where the DASS measurements has also been applied. At the same time, that analysis indicates that it made little difference to the family’s well-being which family member was affected by SUD.

Keywords: Substance Use Disorder, SUD, DASS, depression, anxiety, stress, families, family group therapy.


1. Ólafsdóttir, J., 2. Hrafnsdóttir, S. & 3. Orjasniemi, T. 1. Ph.D.(c), Adjunct Professor, University of Iceland 2. PhD, Associate Professor, University of Iceland 3. PhD, Senior Lecturer, University of Lapland

Ms Jona Olafsdottir