Sir.—I was very pleased to finally see an article advocating a preventive approach to alcoholism such as the editorial review "Children of Alcoholics."1 As a second-generation product of an alcoholic family, my opinion of alcoholic treatment programs has been that too little has been done too late. It is also my opinion that by focusing on the alcoholic, therapists have expended a great deal of effort on the person who will very likely benefit the least from it.
As a child, I would have been extremely grateful for some emotional support and counseling on how to cope effectively with my family. Although my grandfather was the classic alcoholic, my mother has all his emotional characteristics except the chemical dependency. (Perhaps a better term for this condition would be addictive personality disorder.) She was unpredictable, verbally abusive, and unable to see beyond her own needs. Her employment was always tenuous.
I think that Dr Macdonald's approximate figure of 28.6 million Americans who share the stressful experience of
Jessee R. Growing up in a Family 'Bent' by Alcoholism. Am J Dis Child. 1987;141(3):238. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1987.04460030016002