Term Paper: Alcoholism on the Family and the Benefits

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¶ … alcoholism on the family and the benefits of a rehab. program

The impact of alcoholism on the family

General description of Interest

My interest in this subject is based on the fact that alcoholism is one of the most devastating and serious social and psychological diseases that affects thousands of people in our society. A further factor is that the impact of alcoholism is often hidden from public view as it has a social stigma that makes the treatment of this disease difficult. Therefore I felt that a research study based on interviews with people who had experienced this aspect within the family would be a valuable contribution to the subject. However the aspect that interested me and particularly motivated this research was the far -reaching and damaging affect of alcoholism on children in the family. As the research on this topic shows, the impact of alcoholism on children who grow up with a parent who is an alcoholic is often devastating and can last into adulthood. In essence my interest in this topic related to my concern for the social and psychological implications of a disease that affects many people both young and old in our society.

1. 2. Description of interview participants

Mr. A.

Mr. A was a middle-aged man who had survived an extremely traumatic childhood with two alcoholic parents. He was a very responsive interviewee and provided a wealth of information on the effects of alcoholism on children from the perspective of someone who had truly experienced the trauma of alcoholism first hand. He was also an interviewee who seemed to have the least resentment or bitterness about his experiences, even though his trauma was extreme.

Mr. And Mrs. B. Mr. And Mrs. B were two parents had an alcoholic son who had committed suicide as a result of his alcohol addiction. This interview provided insight into the trauma and tragedy of parents who had attempted every possible means of rehabilitation to no avail. They also provided insight into the psychological trauma that accompanies this type of situation.

Miss C. Miss C. told of her experiences as a teenage girl who had lived with an alcoholic father most of her life. Her story possibly echoes thousands of others and also included mention of sexual and psychological abuse.

Mr. D. Mr. D. was an elderly man who had lost a wife to alcoholism. There was a great amount of regret expressed in this interview. However, Mr. D. was not as forthcoming as the other interviewees and was difficult to interview at first.

Mrs. E. The interviewee in this case had actually turned to prostitution as a result of her alcoholism. This interview provides some interesting data with regard to the connection between sexual promiscuity and alcoholism. This was also an aspect that was noted in the literature on the subject.

Mrs. F. Mrs. F. was a woman who had two members of her family become alcoholics. The interviewee was also adamant that the root causes of alcoholism were not social but rather genetic.

1. 3. Methodology and collection of data

The central methodology in this research project was the collection of data through direct interviews of members of families who had been affected by alcoholism in a family situation. I approached a social work institution to find if there were any participants who would be willing to take part in this project.

A explained the intentions of the study and research in terms of the need to understand the full impact and significance of alcoholism on the family and to ascertain the effectiveness of rehabilitation techniques and methods. There were two interviewees who were prepared to answer the questions. I later found that due not the success of the first interviews the participants suggested a number of other people who might be willing to take part in the project. I eventually had as many as six interviewees. The method I used was fairly open - ended. While I did ask the participants to answer certain selected questions, I also made the interviews as informal and casual as possible. In other words, if the interviewees felt that one question was more important and particularly related to their situation, then I did not step them from exploring those avenues. This resulted in a free-flowing and very insightful series of interviews.

2. Results

2.1. Theme patterns

There were a number of central themes to which the participants continually referred. However, in collating the data I also found that there were many areas which overlapped and even some contradictory views. I will therefore provide the most common themes that tended to conform to most of the views that were presented in the interviews. I will also provide a short overview of each interview in order to ensure that some of the nuances and subtleties that emerged in the interviews are provided for. As noted in the methodology section, while the interviewees were requested to answer certain fixed questions, yet I did not prevent them from adding comment and discursive details; which I found were often even more enlightening than the direct questions.

Theme 1.

The first aspect that often dominated the responses to the questions was evidence of ambiguous and complex feelings towards the alcoholic family member or members. This was not always the case and there were some very direct and unambiguous responses. However, the answer to the question 'how was your family affected by the alcoholism' opened up various emotive responses.

On the one hand those who had to deal with the alcoholic person felt a sense of helpless and a need to assist the alcoholic family member. At the same time there was a conflicting feeling of resentment about the way that the lives of the members of the family had been disrupted and in some case even destroyed by the alcoholic individual. This conflict was even obvious in parents of children who had become alcoholics. While these parents showed an extreme sense of responsibility and had done everything possible to help their child, yet there was an undertone of resentment not at the way that their lives had been ruined d by the alcoholics, but by the way that alcoholism is presented and promoted in society.

The greatest sense of resentment and long-term trauma was exhibited in the children who felt both a sense of love and responsibly for the alcoholics parent but at the same time a deep sense of resentment at the way that the alcohol parent had disrupted, traumatized and complicated their lives.

With regard to this theme in terms of my position as an interviewer I was astounded by the depth and ambiguity of feeling that was unlocked in some of the interviewees as the interview progressed. In a few cases I found myself a witness to someone reliving the extremely traumatic experiences of a child in fear of her own father who was a good and kind parent during day and an abusive monster at night; or the parent who had given up everything to provide a stable home for a child only to see that child slowly move towards his death as a result of an addiction to alcohol. There were of course more reticent interviews, but I was astounded by the depth and extent of the trauma that alcoholism in the family could generate. It must also be noted that most of the interviews were answering questions about alcoholism in the family that had occurred in the past and yet the interviews clearly showed that these experiences were still alive and raw even years after the events. This shows that the trauma within the family is something that requires therapy and time before the feelings and experience can be truly dealt with. This also led me to the view that there should also be a process of rehabilitation not only for the alcoholic but also for the victims of alcoholism.

Theme 2

Another theme which was not as evident as I had at first thought was that of the financial and more practical concerns that would have been affected by alcoholism in the family. However most of the interviewees did mention that the presence of an alcoholic did have in many cases an extremely negative effect on the family finances and the ability of the family as a whole to sustain itself. Once again this was not a clear cut issue and many of the responses to this question also showed a protective ambiguity towards the alcoholic individual. This was also complicated in many instances by the fact that the family member interviewed was often dependent for their bread and butter on the alcoholic member of the family. This meant that they had to tolerate the excesses of the alcoholic person.

Theme 3 third dominant theme that emerged was that of guilt. This was a theme that I did not initially expect to be so prominent in the interviews and which showed the psychological complexity of alcoholism in… [END OF PREVIEW]

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