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Honors Thesis Presentation Christine Lydon April 29, 2011.

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1 Honors Thesis Presentation Christine Lydon April 29, 2011

2  Alcohol is responsible for about a third of all traffic fatalities each year, is a factor in two out of three partner abuse cases, and leads to 13,000 liver disease cases  Cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, colon, and breast. In general, the risk of cancer increases with increasing amounts of alcohol.  Psychiatric problems, including depression, anxiety, and suicide.  Social problems, including unemployment, lost productivity, and family problems Source: CDC

3 “As you imagine a mobile suspended from the ceiling of your living room, notice how all of the separate pieces of the mobile hang magically suspended in delicate harmony and balance with each other. Although each part of the mobile might be a separate, fragile piece of crystal or polished metal, the mobile as a whole seems to be at one with itself - one beautiful, whole work of art. If you bumped against one element of the mobile, it may move with a burst of energy and unpredictable motion - but it does not move by itself. Because although it appears to be a separate, solitary piece of crystal or metal, it is connected nonetheless to the rest of the mobile by wire or string” - John & Linda D. Friel in Adult Children: The Secrets of Dysfunctional Families

4 “But I just never allowed myself to be mad at him and I think what I was angry about is that I felt that we all got roped into protecting him… my mother got roped into protecting him when she was 19 or 20 years old and then when we were growing up, we all protected him so he wouldn’t be mad, and that’s what it was, we all protected him, we all tried to avoid things that would upset him”

5  1 in 4 children in U.S. is growing up with alcoholism or alcohol abuse in the family  Anxiety, depression, poor school performance, behavioral problems, medical and emotional neglect, low self-esteem, PTSD, physical and/or sexual abuse  Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACOAs) are disproportionately at risk for drug and alcohol abuse, marrying a substance abuser, developing mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression “Children can represent an intrusion and a responsibility. Wife and children become reasons or excuses for drinking… It is characteristic of an alcoholic that he resents or avoids anything that gets between him and his drinking” –Dr. Jack Hedblom, PhD

6  Qualitative Research – “methodological techniques for analyzing the nuances of quality of the human experience” (Marvasti 2004)  Grounded Theory – theory is generated through data collection  Six in-depth, semi-structured interviews that lasted between minutes

7  All ACOAs from the mid-Maine region  Participants recruited through a local social worker  5 women, 1 man  All five women are recovering alcoholics, man abstains from virtually all alcohol use  2 had alcoholic mothers, 2 alcoholic fathers, 2 with two parents, both of whom were alcoholics

8  “Under the rug” policy  “My mother is the kind of person is [sic] you don’t look back, you always look forward. And I think that’s an enabling, survival mechanism” (S1:9).  “When I first joined AA I was not willing to say that my father was an alcoholic. In fact, one of the things that bothered me about joining was that if I agreed that I was an alcoholic then by definition he must be, because he drank way more than I did” (S3:10 ).

9  “The doctor asked him once about alcohol, and his response was something like, he thought most everybody who drank had a problem with it. So he wasn’t clueless, but he also didn’t have the information”  “Back then, people didn’t really talk about [alcoholism]”  “But you only have a couple of drinks!” “Mom, have you ever watched me mix a drink?”

10  “I don’t think my mother ever said anything [to my father about his drinking]… And you know, by the time I was adolescent and early adulthood I was drinking a lot. And my brother was drinking a lot. So we were all like, no big deal!”  “See my dad drank beer and so I remember at around age four, he trained me to go get his beer out of the refrigerator. And somewhere along the line I said, ‘Can I have a taste?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, of course you can have a taste!’ So I took a taste… I would take quite a bit taste of his beer because that first taste tasted really good to me and when I talk about it I can still feel the alcohol going down into my legs. I remember feeling, ‘Woah, what is this?’”

11  “Her drink is her best friend. She told me that point blank”  “I had clothes, I had food. I had nothing else. Because it was my mother, my dad and the bottle”  “If my father was around, he would help. Well, even though I’d have to drive, even when I was eleven”  “Whatever he was interested, I expressed an interest in. Because he was the sun, the moon and the stars. And as long as I had his attention, everything was great”

12  “I lived in constant fear. Constant. I couldn’t even go into a darkened - I couldn’t even go into a lighted room by myself, that’s how fearful - even when I had children, yeah. Even if I had babies, if I was up alone I’d be scared to death. You know, my husband could be in the other room sleeping and I’d still be scared. And I carried that fear for a long, long, long time”  “Basically I was an infant trying to raise an infant. I didn’t know how, I didn’t know how to be a parent [because] all I saw was fighting and arguing and, you know, the backseat of the car”  “I always end up in that friggin’ responsible role”

13 Interviewer: Both of your parents [were alcoholics]? Rebecca: Mmhm. But my mother wasn’t, oh, I don’t know if she was, my mother was a maintenance drinker. And her situation was more that her maintenance drinking got caught up with some medications she was taking... Interviewer: What do you mean by maintenance drinking? Rebecca: Maintenance drinking is, a person like doesn’t necessarily get drunk but they may drink a little everyday. For instance, when my mother would drink wine, she’d water it down with water. So, so she might have three drinks in the course of the day but there really wasn’t all that much booze in it. Interviewer: So she wasn’t drinking to get drunk, or - Rebecca: Well, (sighs) I don’t know.

14  Wives more likely to stay with alcoholic husbands than vice versa (Jacqueline Wiseman)  Economic dependence  “He usually directed his anger at my mother. Um, the one thing he used to tell my mother that I heard constantly was that he never loved her and he never wanted to marry her and that she forced him into it and of course I heard that daily. He did not like women”  “She let him run the show, a lot”

15  While we must hold families accountable for providing a child’s basic needs, we must also make sure that these families are receiving the support they need  Family-centered approach to alcohol recovery  Al-Anon and Alateen programs in schools


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