Psychological Self-Help

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There is advice for adult men (Llardo, 1993) and women (Boynton & Dell, 1995) who want
to re-create a healthy, independent relationship with their same sexed parent.
The causes and results of alcoholism and abuse—the clinical vs.
research description
Alcoholism, neglect and abuse
Since the "drug counter-culture" of the 1960's, our society has
been obsessed with the effects of alcohol and drugs. One positive
consequence of this concern is the highlighting of the problems of
adult children of alcoholics (ACA's). A flood of self-help books
describe ACA's variously as overly anxious and responsible, passive
placaters, martyrs, apathetic, substance abusers, poor problem
solvers, distrustful, out of touch with their feelings, unable to maintain
relationships, codependent, shame-filled, suicidal, and so on. These
are the clinical descriptions that come from actual case histories; no
doubt they are valid descriptions of many ACA's lives. However, when
Wright and Heppner (1991) compared ACA's with non-ACA's using
objective tests, they found no differences on these kinds of
characteristics. One possible explanation is that Wright and Heppner
surveyed college freshmen and some therapists have contended that
the problems of ACA's don't become pronounced until the middle 20's.
So, a study of 25-35-year-olds might yield different results. Another
possibility is that, while some have serious problems (seen by
therapists), many ACA's may not be aware of their problems or may
not have problems, at least not serious enough to drive them into
therapy. In any case, if you are an ACA with problems, there are many
books available: Seixas (1979), Hobe (1990), Messina (1989), Wholey
(1988), and Napier (1990). Individual or group therapy may be
necessary. 
Clinical theories first described the type of families that produce
children who abuse drugs and alcohol. Only now are objective,
scientific studies being done (Glantz & Pickens, 1991). Again, the
clinical and objective studies don't entirely agree. One common clinical
notion is that young drug users are emotionally over-involved
("enmeshed") with an over-indulging Mom and have distant or
strained relationships with Dad. Then, supposedly, the youngsters find
a drug-using crowd which provides a way to escape--to a limited
degree--from his/her smothering, emotionally ambivalent family
situation. Another clinical theory is that the young drug user is
unconsciously helping the family carry out certain functions, namely,
(a) his/her mischievous behavior (and peer group) diverts attention
away from the poor marriage of his/her parents or (b) his/her drug
use with friends provides an illusion of "I'm growing up" and "on my
own" while holding the family together via his/her defiance of parents'
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