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Adult Children of Alcoholics Expanded Editionby Janet Gerin Woititz
It is important to be clear what recovery means for adult children. Alcoholism is a disease. People recovering from alcoholism are recovering from a disease. The medical model is accepted by all responsible folks working in alcoholism treatment.
Being the child of an alcoholic is not a disease. It is a fact of your history. Because of the nature of this illness and the family response to it, certain things occur that influence your self-feelings, attitudes and behaviors in ways that cause you pain and concern. The object of AcoA recovery is to overcome those aspects of your history that cause you difficulty today and to learn a better way.
To the degree that none of us have ideal childhoods and to the degree that even an ideal childhood may be a cause for some concern, we are all recovering to some extent or other, in some way or other. Because there are so many alcoholic families and because we have been fortunate in being able to study them, it is possible to describe in general terms what happens to children who grow up in that environment.
To the degree that other families have similar dynamics, individuals who have grown up in other ôdysfunctionalö systems identify with and recover in very much the same way.
All folks in AcoA recovery need to learn the Al-Anon principle of detachment regardless of whether or not they are recovering from addiction or are living with an addict. Until you do this, you can go no further. Detachment is the key. Because of the inconsistent nature of the nurture a child receives in an alcohol family system and the childÆs hunger for nurture, many of you are still joined to your parents at the emotional hip. Even if you are no longer with them, you continue to seep their approval and are strongly influenced by their attitudes and behaviors. You will need to learn to separate yourself from them in a way that will not add to your stress. This is one of the primary goals of the Al-Anon program.
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