Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Executive Leadership

First Supervisor

Kim VanDerLinden, Ph.D.

Second Supervisor

Lorretta Quigley, Ed.D.


Empirical literature shows the number of substance users has increased in the United States in the last 5 years. Support services are often limited to substance users only, leaving out families affected by addiction. Black individuals and families of substance users are underrepresented in the literature. The purpose of this study was to investigate the perceptions of substance use support services for Black family members of substance users. Data were collected using a qualitative interpretive phenomenological analysis, semi-structured, virtual interviews, and purposive sampling. The data from 10 participants in New York State was analyzed through the lens of Bronfenbrenner’s ecological system theory. The themes that emerged were (a) health and wellness, (b) types of familymember supports, (c) challenges and obstacles, and (d) cultural influences across a person’s lifetime. The results reveal Black family members’ perceptions of intimate relationships, spiritual relationships, and community-based supports. The participants’ beliefs derived from negative stigma and perceptions of self-image. Overall, the participants cultural events related to family cycle, trauma, and the code of silence have been reinforced over generations. It is recommended for policy makers and professionals to revise trainings and education in the behavioral health field to emphasize the influence of family members of substance users. Supportive health stages were developed in this study to detail the experience of affected families and to suggest a way professionals can better assist families. These initiatives can bring meaningful changes within the behavioral health field and can give a voice to Black families affected by substance use disorders.

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