Adult Children of People With Alcoholism: Healing the Wounds
If your parent had an alcohol problem, you probably haven’t learned to trust yourself, identify and express your own thoughts and feelings, learned about healthy relationships, or developed a sense of yourself as a valued and unique individual. These are the tasks of recovery, a process involving several stages:
• Survivor stage:
The first step in recovery is to acknowledge that you are from a dysfunctional family. This acknowledgement may be difficult as it dredges up old memories—painful memories you may have worked hard to bury.
• Identification stage:
Acknowledging that you are an ACA provides a framework upon which you can construct a realistic view of the past. This requires an abandonment of denial and an outpouring of intense feelings, including sadness and anger.
• Core issues stage:
This stage involves an active exploration of the ways in which your childhood is impacting your identity and relationships in adulthood. • Integration stage:
You must develop belief systems that legitimize self-acceptance. New attitudes are now woven into healthier behavior patterns. Trust, honesty, and an assertive expression of needs and emotions become a part of daily life.
• Genesis stage:
The central focus here is on ceasing to be a passive victim and becoming an active creator of your own world. Because the ACA recovery process is often a long and difficult one, it is imperative to use education, emotional support and professional counseling.
Individual and group therapy, self-help support groups (e.g., Al-Anon) and reading books about ACAs can help you through the recovery process. If you need help locating recovery resources, contact your company’s employee assistance program (EAP) or another mental health professional for confidential guidance. Resources
It Will Never Happen to Me by Claudia Black. Random House, 1987.
Recovery: A Guide for Adult Children of Alcoholics by Herbert Gravitz and Julie Bowden. Simon & Schuster, 1987.
Adult Children of Alcoholic Syndrome: From Discovery to Recovery by Wayne Kritsberg. Bantam Books, 1988.
Al-Anon/Alateen www.al-anon.org By Karen S. Dickason © 2005 Achieve Solutions