Living Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

pp 1-4

Date: Latest Version

Adult Child of Alcoholics (ACOA)

  • Jessica L. ChouAffiliated withQueen of Peace Center Email author 
  • , Bertranna A. MuruthiAffiliated withMarriage and Family Therapy Program, Virginia Tech - Northern Virginia Center

Name of Organization or Institution

Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA)




Nearly 7.5 million children living in the United States have at least one parent with an alcohol problem (SAMHSA 2012). The impact of alcoholism on the family has been well documented (Vaught et al. 2013; Engels et al. 2004; Peterson et al. 1994), and emerging research continues to highlight the long-term effects on adult children of alcoholics (ACOAs*) (Haverfield and Theiss 2016; Werner and Malterud 2016; Sanchez-Roige et al. 2016). Experiences of children growing up in families with a parent abusing alcohol are subjective, yet research indicates that ACOAs* experience depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, difficulty with interpersonal relationships (Haverfield and Theiss 2014; McCoy and Dunlop 2016; Salvatore et al. 2016), as well as increased risk for intergenerational alcohol addiction (Cutler and Radford 1999). The formation of the Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA) was in response to an ...

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