[Skip to Navigation]
May 1981

The Alcoholic Family at Home: Patterns of Interaction in Dry, Wet, and Transitional Stages of Alcoholism

Author Affiliations

From the Center for Family Research, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, George Washington University School of Medicine, Washington, DC.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1981;38(5):578-584. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1980.01780300090011

• Thirty-one alcoholic families were observed in their homes on nine separate occasions over a six-month period. During each occasion, behavioral observers made systematic recordings of interactional behavior using the Home Observation Assessment Method, a method that concentrates on the family's style of regulating its home environment. Three distinct patterns of home behavior could be identified using univariate and multivariate statistical analyses. Each pattern was associated with one of three "family alcohol phases": a stable wet, stable dry, or transitional phase. This suggests that these families manifest characteristic family-level patterns of behavior in their homes at different stages in the course of chronic alcoholism. The critical issue was the relative rigidity vs flexibility of behavior. Families in either stable wet and transitional phases proved to have rigid patterns of behavior; those in the stable dry phase had flexible patterns. The findings provide an initial insight into how families manage a chronic disease process in their home environment.