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Adult Children of Alcoholics: Expanded Edition Paperback – Nov 1 1990

4.5 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews

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  • Adult Children of Alcoholics: Expanded Edition
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  • Perfect Daughters: Adult Daughters of Alcoholics
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 135 pages
  • Publisher: HCI; EXPA edition (Nov. 1 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1558741127
  • ISBN-13: 978-1558741126
  • Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 1.5 x 21.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 358 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,049 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

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.


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    Customer Reviews

    Top Customer Reviews

    Format: Paperback
    This book crossed my path in my early twenties and helped me
    recognize a life pattern as the result of being born into
    a family of alcoholics. Due to its guidance, I joined the
    12-step programs adult children of alcoholics and codependents
    anonymous (among others).
    Twenty years later, I am happily married and successfully
    dealing with my codependency patterns. I now set boundaries,
    now have self-esteem, and am able to discern whats "my stuff"
    and "your baggage" and don't take yours on as "my problem" any
    more. Thank you very much Janet Woititz! By the way, I have
    recommended this book to more than 500 people in my counseling
    work over the years. No one ever reported back that it was a
    waste of time.
    9 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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    Report abuse
    Format: Paperback
    This book literally saved my life! Even though I am college educated with an advanced degree in social work, I always thought I was "crazy". When I worked professioanlly with truly "crazy" people, I lived in fear that one day, I too, would be diagnosed as crazy.
    I was introduced to this life altering book through an Adult Childrenof Alcoholics group. I devoured the book as soon as I got my hands on it. I couldn't believe what I was reading...it described MY LIFE, and more importantly, it described MY FEELINGS, which I had never been able to sort out.
    Thank God I know I am not crazy. I now realize I was not responsible for my parents' behavior. This book gave me tools to use to change my life. My life is so much better after reading this book. If you can only read one book, read this one. In my opinion, it's the best there is.
    4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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    Report abuse
    Format: Paperback
    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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    By A Customer on Oct. 15 2000
    Format: Paperback
    This book as a very noble intent and if it can help some people improve their lives, that's great. However, after reading so many great reviews about this book, I was extremely disappointed having read it.
    Among the things I didn't like was the author's authoritative tone when she'd describe things that allegedly happened in your family (as if she had been there herself). Of course, she is gleening common events from the "typical" alcoholic home, and of course SOME of those probably occurred in your situation. However, after the 20th time reading that both my mother and father treated me such-and-such a way and that I had such-and-such thoughts - none of which actually occurred in my situation - I started to get a little annoyed and felt that this book did not really describe my experience. (It would be much better if she had said "this MAY have occurred in your home" or "you MIGHT have felt such-and-such", but when she tells you that this or that DID occur and that you DID have these feelings, you begin to wonder just how much of this book really does apply to you.)
    Another big problem was the verbatim quotes of people going through recovery. These really should have been edited to make them clearer and more relevant. It's one thing to want to show people's feelings and experiences in their own words, but sometimes people's own words leave a lot to be desired as far as clarity and cohesiveness. The quotes often lacked relevance or were written in such a way that you got the feeling as if you were overhearing an inside joke.
    Read more ›
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