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Adult Children of Alcoholics Paperback – November 1, 1990


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 135 pages
  • Publisher: HCI; Expanded edition (November 1, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1558741127
  • ISBN-13: 978-1558741126
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (168 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,989 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Janet Woititz was the author of Adult Children of Alcoholics, which was on the New York Times bestseller list for over a year. She wrote several other books, including Lifeskills for Adult Children; The Self-Sabotage Syndrome; The Struggle for Intimacy; Marriage on the Rocks; Healing Your Sexual Self and many others. Woititz was the director and founder of the Institute for Counseling and Training in West Caldwell, New Jersey.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.



from Chapter 5
Recovery Hints


It is important to be clear what recovery means for adult children. Alcoholism is a disease. People recovering from alcoholism are recovering from a disease. The medical model is accepted by all responsible folks working in alcoholism treatment.

Being the child of an alcoholic is not a disease. It is a fact of your history. Because of the nature of this illness and the family response to it, certain things occur that influence your self-feelings, attitudes and behaviors in ways that cause you pain and concern. The object of AcoA recovery is to overcome those aspects of your history that cause you difficulty today and to learn a better way.

To the degree that none of us have ideal childhoods and to the degree that even an ideal childhood may be a cause for some concern, we are all recovering to some extent or other, in some way or other. Because there are so many alcoholic families and because we have been fortunate in being able to study them, it is possible to describe in general terms what happens to children who grow up in that environment.

To the degree that other families have similar dynamics, individuals who have grown up in other ôdysfunctionalö systems identify with and recover in very much the same way.


Recovery Hints for Adult Children


All folks in AcoA recovery need to learn the Al-Anon principle of detachment regardless of whether or not they are recovering from addiction or are living with an addict. Until you do this, you can go no further. Detachment is the key. Because of the inconsistent nature of the nurture a child receives in an alcohol family system and the childÆs hunger for nurture, many of you are still joined to your parents at the emotional hip. Even if you are no longer with them, you continue to seep their approval and are strongly influenced by their attitudes and behaviors. You will need to learn to separate yourself from them in a way that will not add to your stress. This is one of the primary goals of the Al-Anon program.



àWhat you learn about yourself as you are growing up because a part of who you are and how you feel about yourself. No one can change that but you. Your parents, even if they recover and treat you differently, cannot fix what makes you feel bad about yourself. You may start a new and healthy relationship with them in the present but no amount of amends on their part will fix the past. That is why dwelling on their part in your ongoing pain will not get you through it or past it. Your present difficulties are your problem. To put the focus outside yourself is to delay your recovery.

Emotions that have been held down for years and years will come to surface. That is why it is suggested that if you are recovering from an addiction, you need to focus on that first so that you will not be tempted to relieve those feelings in destructive ways. You will go through a number of powerful emotions in your recovery. It is part of the process.

Not everyone goes through the stages of the process in the same sequence, and many of you may block some of those feelings. There is no ôrightö way. I just tell you about the process because those feelings may surface without your conscious direction and frighten you. And they will resurface many times with each new discovery. The recovery process is different for different folks. Only you can determine the way that will work best for you.

Your immediate response to reading this book may be:


  • Relief. The realizations that you are not alone and that you are not crazy will be freeing. It may be a life-changing event.

  • Pain. The awareness of the amount of your suffering and your powerlessness may overwhelm you along with the knowledge that you have been living a lie. It will be similar to the extraordinary pain you experienced as a child before you learned how to numb out.

  • Anger. It is not unusual for all the anger that youÆve been sitting on for all these years to surface and you may become fearful of your own rage.

  • Grief. The losses that you have experienced have to be grieved for, and you may feel this level of pain as well. You may believe that if you begin to cry you will never stop.

  • Joy. Going through the process eventually will allow you to experience a freedom that you have never felt before. When you are an adult you can be the child you were unable to be when you were a child.



    ¬1983, 1990 by Janet Woititz. All rights reserved. Reprinted from Adult Children of Alcoholics by Janet Geringer Woititz, Ed.D. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442.


  • More About the Author

    Janet Geringer Woititz, Ed.D., is the founder and President of the Institute for Counseling and Training in West Caldwell, NJ, which specialized in working with dysfunctional families and individuals.

    Customer Reviews

    This book helped open my eyes a lot about myself.
    Lalalauren
    This book helped explain a lot that I didnt even know I need explained.
    Miss Lady
    I highly recommend this book to any ACoA in recovery.
    mls1@flash.net

    Most Helpful Customer Reviews

    240 of 243 people found the following review helpful By G. Jordan on March 29, 2001
    Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
    Excellent book for those who don't know why their lives are a mess, why they keep getting into abusive relationships, why they don't laugh & have fun like other people, people who tear themselves apart for every imagined or real mistake, those who feel inferior and worthless, those like me who have always guessed (often incorrectly) at what normal is. Finally here are the answers millions of people need to let go of their crippling past and rediscover their future--one they want to be part of instead of dreading more of the same misery. The authors have been where we are, they know what they are talking about, they are US too. They have experience, compassion & empathy. They lovingly & gently open the doors to the truth for us, and this book could cause you to feel sad, angry, bitter, depressed but the next page will fill you with realistic hope (not the irrational hopes we're used to), belief in a happy future for yourself, motivation to start the journey of recovery from childhood abuse, neglect, trauma, denial, pain, etc. There is a thorough section on recovery groups and what to expect, how it works and so on, so that strangers to recovery will know what to expect, and maybe feel better about taking that 1st step--going to a meeting, finding a therapist, joining a group, reading books & workbooks, reaching out to safe others for support & more. I highly recommend this book to any one from a substance-abuse type family background, but also to people from dysfunctional families as well since all of the same principles apply. I also recommend Adult Children: The Secrets of Dysfunctional Families to those who can't relate to an alcoholic background at all, but who maybe grew up with an over-eating parent, an absent father, a mentally ill caretaker, etc.Read more ›
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    137 of 148 people found the following review helpful By Hummingbird on September 30, 2005
    Format: Paperback
    I've read a number of books on this subject. I wouldn't say this book was unhelpful but is too absolute in its information to be anything but alarming to anyone tentatively looking for answers. It's also not very well written. I would suggest reading either "Recovery, A Guide for Adult Children of Alcoholics" by Gravitz & Bowden (an excellent first book) along with "A Primer on Adult Children of Alcoholics" by Cermak for an added layer; and then, absolutely essential as a more in-depth book: "Children of Alcoholism - A Survivor's Manual" by Seixas & Youcha. Leave the Woititz book for more information. By all means, read it. It does have excellent information; just remember the adage "Take what you need and leave the rest". Something she unfortunately forgot to include.
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    47 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Paris A. on February 28, 2003
    Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
    I swear this book was written about me. It opened my eyes to ways I deal with and approach life, so that now I feel clearer and have some answers. Anyone who has an alcoholic parent should read this book, because even if you think it didn't effect you, you might be wrong.
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    33 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Simon Jackson on August 25, 2000
    Format: Paperback
    A book, any book is only a collection of words on paper; it's the thoughts and beliefs of another person. As such a book can't change the way you behave. However, what it can do is provide you with the tools to enable you to make your own changes. For those who were children in a family where alcohol was used in an unhealthy manner there are a select groups of books that help provided the tools for such change - Adult Children of Alcoholics by Janet Geringer Woititz is one of those books.
    This is a simple book, it avoids jargon and academic theories and as a result is clear to read and therefore easy to understand. The book will mean different things to different people, depending on experience and perspective. Therefore, Woititz herself suggests the book may be useful in a number of ways:
    To gain greater knowledge and understanding of what it means to be a child harmfully effected by a parent's use of alcohol.
    As a self-help guide, for use in an individual's move towards development and growth.
    As a basis for discussion groups for adult children of alcoholics.
    The book is broken down into four linked chapters: What happened to you as a child, What is happening to you now, Breaking the cycle and What about your children. Each chapter is short yet to the point (indeed the book is only 106 pages long) and gives the reader an insight into the there and thens, the here and nows and possibilities of the future.
    I grew up in a family where one of my parents used alcohol in a way that was destructive not only to her but to her children. As a child I had no idea of what to expect in my family - the only constant that I knew was that on a regular basis my mum would be drunk when I came home from school.
    Read more ›
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    26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 1, 1999
    Format: Paperback
    This book was instrumental in helping me link current behaviors to past events experienced as a child of an alcoholic family. I always new unhealthy behaviors I practice today were a result of my early experiences, but I had never thought through the correlations thoroughly. This book did that for me. Now instead of thinking in general terms such as "I act like this because I'm from a dysfunctional family," I can think, "I act like x,y, or z, because I experienced/learned/internalized x, y, or z." It enabled me to view my current behaviors as normal for someone who experienced what I did...discovering the specific correlations and that I was normal provided a big relief. As a beginning psychotherapist, it synthesized the signs that may enable me to recognize a client who is an ACoA, as many individuals, unfortunately, are not forthcoming with this information, and a therapist unfamiliar with characteristics of ACoAs may misdiagnosis what is going on with his/her client if s/he is not aware that the client comes from this type of background. If you are an ACoA, give this book to significant others in your life so that they can understand why you behave the way you do at times.
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