Awareness creates opportunity: a narrative study of resilience in adult children of alcoholics
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Children of alcoholics (COAs) are those who grow up in a home where one or more parent is an alcoholic; once adulthood is achieved, they are referred to as adult children of alcoholics (ACOAs). Several risk factors have been identified as a potential result from exposure to an alcoholic environment; however there is a dearth of literature exploring resilience in this population. Descriptive Narrative Inquiry was used to explore the question, “Describe the qualities, processes, or internal motivational factors which have facilitated resilience for adult children of alcoholic parents.” Two ninety-minute life history interviews were conducted with four participants, including the researcher. The participants were female, middle class, university students who considered themselves to be adult children of alcoholics who are resilient. A composite narrative was used to depict the results of this study, combining the data from each participant’s life story. The narrative was written in the first-person through the character of “Sophie”, and the data included is the result of a narrative analysis from the transcripts of the participants’ data. The narrative depicts the developmental stages of the participants’ lives, including childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and the present. Their experiences of growing up in an alcoholic home were documented at each stage. A thematic analysis was conducted, extracting the common themes, meaning made, and personal characteristics that were generated within and across participants that contributed to their development of resilience. The results are discussed in four major themes: Being in Relation: Others Create a Difference; Belief Systems: Spirituality, Religion, and Values; The Self: An Evolving Being; and Alcoholism: Meaning in Itself. It is through the dialogue of the participants’ experiences of resilience that awareness creates opportunity for advocacy for children and adult children of alcoholics. The implications of this research in relation to the experiences of resilience are discussed for children and adult children of alcoholics, educators, and counsellors. Directions for future research are addressed.
DegreeMaster of Education (M.Ed.)
CommitteeWasson-Ellam, Linda; Dell, Colleen
Copyright DateMay 2011