Adult Children of Problem Drinking Parents: Experiences of Relationships
Nasr, Soad Rachel
Difficulties in interpersonal functioning have been consistently reported in the literature as a proposed negative outcome for adult children of problem drinkers. The existing literature has largely privileged the quantitative paradigm, which has conceptualised this group’s relationship functioning through theoretically driven categories and concepts. The result has been a predominantly negative picture lacking utility, as well as neglecting important contextual processes and the inherent complexity and fluidity of human relationships. The aim of this study was to gain a richer understanding through exploring adult children of problem drinkers lived experience of relationships. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with six individuals who grew up with at least one problem drinking parent. Transcripts of the interviews were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Four main themes emerged across participants accounts: ‘Moving from ‘bewilderment’ to seeking clarity and stability in relationships’, ‘Remembering feeling unsafe and finding safety in relationships’, ‘Moving from invisibility towards finding a sense of self’ and ‘Making a choice to change my relationships’. The findings offer an alternative understanding of this group’s experiences of relationships which are discussed in relation to the existing literature. Clinical Implications and suggestions for further research are considered.