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Hidden Victims of Alcoholism: The Dynamics of Growing Up In An Alcoholic Family and Adult Children of Alcoholics

Barbara Simonič
Faculty of Theology, University of Ljubljana

Growing up in a family marked by the alcohol addiction of one or both parents has consequences for the child. In such families, a dysfunctional parenting approach is often formed in which the parents don’t offer child a support and a healthy environment for growth and development. This have consequences for the child, which are also present in his/her adulthood. Adults who grew up in a dysfunctional family where alcohol addiction of one/both parents was present are “adult children of alcoholics”. Unprocessed traumatic experiences from childhood and adolescence in an alcoholic family remain repressed and inappropriately regulated and often shape psychodynamics and functioning in their adulthood, which is often emotionally and socially immature. In this presentation, we will present the pathological patterns between addicted parents and children and the (emotional) experiencing of adult children of alcoholics in their primary families and the consequences they experience in connection with this in their adult lives. By case illustration from clinical psychotherapeutic practice according to the model of relational family therapy, an example of processing childhood complications in adult children of alcoholics will be shown. Children are hidden victims of parental alcoholism and need psychosocial and therapeutic support even in their adulthood.



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