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Adult Daughters of Alcohol Addicts and Their Intimate Couple Relationships

Sara Jerebic
Faculty of Theology, University of Ljubljana

Excessive alcohol consumption is a risk factor for mental health and leads to addiction. It affects not only the addicted individual, but the whole family, whose most vulnerable members are children. Their emotional needs are ignored, and destructive patterns are imprinted on the developing brain. This brain cannot yet fully comprehend what is going on in the family, and at the same time it does not know relationships based on honesty and trust. As these children grow older, they develop defense mechanisms that help them survive the effects of alcohol chaos, but become a source of problems in their intimate couple relationships in adulthood. Based on research, we will present the characteristic functioning of women who grew up with addicted parents and the dynamics of their intimate couple relationships with an emphasis on codependency. Research and clinical practice have shown that these women have difficulty maintaining connection to themselves and inadequately regulate anxiety by being preoccupied with their intimate partner’s behavior. With this paper, we want to contribute to helping and empowering women who grew up in a family with alcohol addiction, to their abandoning the role of victim and accepting responsibility for their own lives. The results of the clinical practice of couple therapy can be helpful to therapists and counselors in establishing an empathetic and emotionally engaged relationship.



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