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Parental Alcoholism as a Determinant of Drinking Styles in Their Adult Children A reviewRunning head PARENTAL ALCOHOLISM AS A DETERMINANT OFDRINKINGParental Alcoholism as a Determinant ofDrinking Styles in Their Adult Children A review Considerable research has been conducted in recent years onthe personality characteristics of adult and adolescent childrenof alcoholics Berkowitz Perkins 1988 Seefeldt Lyon1992 In order for us to examine some of the literatureconcerning the drinking patterns of adult children we willbegin by examining other defining traits that are seen asgenerally characteristic of adult children of alcoholics Adultchildren will henceforth be referred to as ACOAS An important factor in addressing any issue related toACOAs is a definition of alcoholism Shuckit 1987 TheAPA 1987 in its definition of alcoholism requires symptomssuch as heavy drinking over a time the inability to stopdrinking at will major life problems tolerance to drinkingimpaired social or occupational functioning and withdrawalsymptoms upon quitting use Shuckit points to the fact thatalcoholism has been defined as genetic in nature by manystudies This viewpoint allows us to begin a review of theoffspring of alcoholics and their possible geneticpredisposition to alcoholism Another consideration in thediscussion of children of alcoholics and their tendencies towardalcoholism is the environmental factors involved in growing up in analcoholic home These environmental factors have been moredifficult to research and as a result have been documentedless frequently than heredity and genetics Although thisreview will focus primarily on the possible biological basis forthe familial transmission of alcoholism the environmentalfactors will also be examined For our purposes we will defineenvironmental as being any external influence encountered bythe children of alcoholics especially the attitudes andbehaviors of the alcoholic parents Early research such as that of Woititz 1983 indicatesthat children of alcoholics are a clearly distinguishablesubgroup with well-defined characteristics These assumptionsare based primarily on clinical observation during ACOAtreatment Research has recently shed doubt on the findings ofWoititz and other theorists who
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