The specificity of disrupted processes in families of adult children of alcoholics

Michelle Mize Menees, Chris Segrin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

28 Scopus citations

Abstract

Children of alcoholics (COAs) have been characterized as an at-risk population in part, because of the dysfunctional family environments that disrupt psychosocial development among offspring exposed to parental alcoholism. This study examined the specificity of problematic family environments to children of alcoholics vs children exposed to other significant family stressors that included parental death, unemployment, separation, divorce, or major illness. University students completed self-report measures of family stressors, family relationship problems, family communication quality, family conflict, and relationship with parents. Based on a family stressor checklist, 20 students exposed only to parental alcoholism and no other family stressors were compared to several other groups exposed to specific family stressors, and to 50 control subjects who had reported no family stressors. Results showed that students from families where a parent is or was an alcoholic, and where there were no other family stressors, recall disturbed family relations no more commonly than students specifically exposed to other family stressors such as parental divorce, death, or major illness, and no more commonly than those who reported no family stressors. Further analyses suggest that the disruption of COAs' family environments may be explained by their increased likelihood of experiencing additional family stressors that can have a disruptive effect, such as parental separation, divorce and unemployment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)361-367
Number of pages7
JournalAlcohol and Alcoholism
Volume35
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 16 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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