The Effects of Parental Abuse of Alcohol on Children of Alcoholics

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Running head: The Effects of Parental Abuse

The Effects of Parental Abuse of Alcohol on Children of Alcoholics

Abstract

An estimated 6.6 million children under the age of 18 are living with an alcohol dependent parent. These children are often subjected to a disheveled life style which affects them mentally, emotionally and physically. Researchers have examined the many ways in which this disease impacts children’s lives and if the life style or genetics of the addicted parent leads to a greater risk of dependency as the Child of the alcohol grows older. Addiction negatively affects everyone around it, especially children.

The Effects of Parental Abuse of Alcohol on Children of Alcoholics

Researchers have long studied the different effects parental use and abuse of alcohol has on children. They have used many methods of study and asked many different questions. Questions of a predisposition to alcoholism through a genetic link have been posed as well as the possibility of it being hereditary. The emotional effects parental alcoholism has on a child have been examined, reexamined and examined again. Researchers have wondered if the child(ren) of an alcohol dependent parent is in any way physically different then the child(ren) of a non-dependent parent. They have posed the thought that children of alcoholics (COAs) are at a greater risk for dependency to substances later in life. Researchers have suggested that inappropriate behavior is a direct result of their parent’s alcoholism, and that COAs experience a different childhood then non-COAs. Sociological researchers have asked if the child loses its identity as “the child” and takes on a different role in the family, or if the adjustments made by the family to this addiction hinder the growth of the child as a social being. Psychological researchers have examined the possible stunts in the psychological and developmental growth that a child may encounter when placed in the position of COA. A medical researcher may look for a gene that is prevalent in the alcoholic but missing in the non-alcoholic to try an answer if the COA will have that gene and if there is a cure. They may try and find a medical reason for the tendency for alcoholism in some and not in others. There are literally hundreds of studies, looking at hundreds of different things associated with alcoholism. Though researchers may not all look at the same question, they all want to know the same thing; Does parental alcoholism effect the child, and if so, how?

Psychological Effects on the Child
A COA can feel like they are all alone in a huge world, but the reality is, there are more COAs then we may think. According to Russell, Henderson and Blume (1984), roughly 6.6 million children 18 years of age and younger live with at least one alcoholic parent. With such a drastically high number, it is of large concern that the child of an alcoholic will suffer some form of psychological trauma due to the parent’s abuse of alcohol. Multiple studies have been done to examine how a child will fare in the home of an alcoholic. Of these studies research has found that COAs run a higher risk, then non-COAs, for emotional, cognitive and behavioral problems. In a study titled “Children of Alcoholics: Vulnerable or Resilient?” the researchers found that children of alcoholics (COA) are at a higher risk for depression, suicide, eating disorders, chemical dependency and teen pregnancy then non-COAs (Mylant, Ide, Cuevas, & Meehan, 2002). Further studies that have been done that compared non-COAs with COAs and found that higher levels of anxiety, general stress and depression are reported among the COA’s then the non-COAs (Schuckit & Chiles,1978; Moos & Billings, 1982; Anderson & Quast, 1983; Preweet, Spence & Chakins, 1981). A similar study was also done...
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