Adult children of alcoholics : psychological functioning and problem alcohol use

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Goff, Frances R.
Wenck, L. Stanley (Lewis Stanley)
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Thesis (Ph. D.)
Department of Educational Psychology
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Whereas many studies of adult children of alcoholics (COAs) have utilized clinical subjects, subjects in this study (n = 229) were relatively well functioning college students. The Children ofAlcoholics Screening Test (CAST; Jones, 1983) was utilized to define parental alcoholism.Results of a multivariate analysis of variance indicated that COAs were more likely to exhibit symptoms related to poor psychological adjustment than were their non-COA peers. No significant psychological differences in male and female COAs were found. COAs scored significantly higher than non-COAs (p.< .01) on the Alienation scale of the Psychological Screening Inventory (PSI; Lanyon, 1978), indicating the greater similarity of COAs to those with psychiatric problems. Social Nonconformity, as a measure of psychopathic behavior, was higher for COAs than for non-COAs (p. < .001). COAs from lower income families demonstrated higher scores on the Discomfort scale (p < .01), which measures symptoms. Those subjects who reported parental greater symptomatology and anxiety than those who reported no parental depression (p. ( .001). Although parental divorce rates were higher for COAs (32.4%) as compared to non-COAs (10.9%), no significant association with any of the psychological variables was found for parental divorce.In comparison to non-COAs, both male and female COAs evidenced greater problem alcohol use (p < .001) measured by the Michigan Alcoholism Screening Test (MAST; Selzer, 1971). As demonstrated by a MAST score of 7 or more, 88.8% of male COAs and 30.5% of female COAs indicated serious alcohol-related problems. Parental depression was also significantly related to problem alcohol use in subjects. It was found that the MacAndrew scale (MAC; MacAndrew, 1965) was of little utility for identifying subjects with problem alcohol use.