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Adolescent substance abuse significantly impacts on the lives of mothers. This paper explores the coping responses of mothers whose adolescents have been admitted to treatment for substance abuse. Design and method: A multiple case study design was adopted and the data were collected through one-on-one interviews facilitated by the Lifegrid. Interpretative phenomenological analysis was used to interrogate the data. Results: Coping emerged as a complex construct in our analysis. The mothers' used problem-focused and emotion-focused coping in different combinations of withdrawing, tolerating and engaged coping responses. The mothers' coping responses were also influenced by individual and relational factors like subjective distress and the mother-dolescent relationship. Conclusions: We argue that research and practice initiatives should consider using a multidimensional perspective of parental coping that recognises the heterogeneity of mothers' coping responses. Impact statement: The current paper offers new insights into the complexities of mothers' coping responses to adolescent substance abuse.