Document Type

Contribution to a Book

Publication Date

January 2018

Publication Title

Contemporary Studies on Relationships, Health, and Wellness


Jennifer A. Theiss & Kathryn Greene

First Page


Last Page







Alcoholism is a family illness that has implications for the physical, emotional, and psychological well-being of the spouse and children of individuals with alcoholism (Johnson & Stone, 2009). One in four families in the United States is affected by alcoholism (Grant, 2000), with approximately 26.8 million children growing up with a parent with alcoholism (Alcohol and Drug Programs [ADP], 2007). Children of parents with alcoholism tend to experience more frequent depression and struggle to develop healthy intimate relationships when compared to children of parents without alcoholism (Drejer, Theikjaard, Teasedale, Schulsinger, & Goodwin, 1985). Adult children of alcoholics (ACoA) who had a distressed relationship with a parent report feelings of alienation, poor communication ability, difficulty trusting others, increased emotional longing, negative attitudes toward the parent, and increased anxiety (Kelley et al., 2011; Straussner & Fewell, 2011). Taken together, these findings suggest that the interpersonal conditions in families coping with alcoholism can have a lasting effect on the well-being of ACoA. Thus, the goal of this study is to examine how communication patterns in families coping with a parent’s alcoholism are associated with psychological outcomes for ACoA in adulthood.


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