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Addict Behav. 1994 Mar-Apr;19(2):185-97.

Adult children of alcoholic or mentally ill parents: alcohol consumption and psychological distress in a tri-ethnic community study.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio 78284-7792.


Data from a racially and ethnically heterogeneous random community sample of 1,784 adults were used to compare effects of reported parental alcoholism, parental mental illness, both alcoholism and mental illness, or no parental pathology. No parental history differences were observed among males with regard to psychological distress (depression, anxiety, and somatization) or drinking patterns (drinking, quantity, frequency, or total weekly consumption). Among females, the parental-mental-illness-only group consistently reported more problems than did the no-pathology group on depression, anxiety, somatization, and drinking quantity, even after statistical controls for demographic factors, social desirability, and possible coping resources such as fatalism, religiosity, and self-esteem. While parental alcoholism appeared to have little impact upon psychological distress dimensions relative to the no pathology group, further analyses conducted separately for current drinkers vs. nondrinkers indicated consistently lower levels of depression, anxiety, and somatization among male nondrinkers than drinkers from families involving parental alcoholism. The specificity of these effects to males reporting parental alcoholism may reflect either the resilience of male Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACOAs) who do not drink and/or the role of drinking as a mediator of parental alcoholism. Possible reasons for the general lack of parental alcoholism and racial/ethnic differences are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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