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Alcoholism is a disease of epidemic proportions, affecting
9.3 to 10 million Americans, and many professionals
believe the figures are closer to 20 million (Weddle and
Wishon). Alcoholism is a "physiological or physiological
dependence on alcohol characterized by the alcoholic’s
inability to control the start or termination of his
drinking"(Encyclopedia Britannica 210). It consists of
frequent and recurring consumption of alcohol to an extent
that causes continued harm to the drinker and leads to
medical and social problems. Alcoholism, however, does not
merely cause harm to the alcoholic, but to the entire family
as well, affecting an estimated 28 million children in this
country (Weddle and Wishon). These children grow up in the
unhealthy and abnormal family systems harmed by
alcoholism, carrying the negative effects of this
environment with them into adulthood. Consequently, adult
children of alcoholics are the innocent victims of a disease
which has shaped their personalities and behavior as
children and will, if not treated, promote their personal
disintegration as adults.
Most alcoholics don’t fit the stereotype of the lying in the
gutter drunk. Alcoholics are likely to be persons of
intense, if sometimes brief, enthusiasms. They often try to
do too much too fast. They tend to demand perfection in
themselves and in others. Frustrated, they may become
painfully depressed or overly aggressive. There is a lack of
inner stability with which to face life’s problems in a
realistic manner (AL-Anon). As the disease of alcoholism
sets in, the family is forced to make an unspoken
decision—to leave the alcoholic or to stay and adapt to his
illness. Because they do not want to disrupt their own lives
or leave a love one, they deny the problem and try to adapt
to the pressures and problems that alcoholism brings.
Typically, as alcoholism takes over, the alcoholic becomes

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