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With father Grzegorz Polok, working with adult children of alcoholics, speaks Agata Puścikowska.

Who can we describe as an ACA? How serious is this problem?

Briefly, ACA is an adult who have grown up in a family in which father, mother, sometimes both of them  abused alcohol or were alcoholics. Insecurity, lack of love, or even physical  violence that child have experienced, leaves an  imprint that in adult life can result in pain, fear and emotional instability. Parents who did not show love or did not provide a sense of security to their children did not fulfill their fundamental responsibilities, and they “equipped” their children with serious defects. Alcoholic’s adult children have anxieties, low self-esteem, many of them are perfectionists, and perfectionism does not make that life easier. A lot of them have enormous problems with establishing relations and building relationships. It is estimated that 40 percent of adults in Poland derive from families with alcoholic problem.

You said, that ACA is an adult whose parents were alcoholics or abused alcohol. Where is the bound between ordinary alcohol consumption and family’s destructive abuse?

Quantity of consumed alcohol is not the case. The problem is that in alcoholic families alcohol is the substance which helps to deal with stress, comforts, gives illusive feeling of happiness. There are percents instead of healthy relations and love.

While working with young people from alcoholic families, do you help them not only psychologically but also spiritually? Is faith necessary in recovery?

I think that faith is a big help. People realize that God’s love is limitless and unconditional sense of great joy and acceptance, even if they did not receive it from their parents. However, it might be hard because many people from alcoholic families have distorted image of God which often originates from the image of parents, especially father… I know, that dealing with ACA syndrome is possible only on psychological level- through therapy. If therapy were connected with referring to God, though, then I think some additional value occurs.

ACA tend to transfer experiences from childhood on to their own children. Is it possible to avoid this kind of situation?

Adult Children of Alcoholics often pass on their fears to their children. They are insensitive or on the contrary, overprotective. These people received misleading directions regarding following the path of life and those directions might be transferred. If they do not go through their problems, do not put their emotions in order, they will have great difficulty with showing the right way to their children. I know that in many cases ACA start to search for help only when they become parents, because they want to raise their children wisely and to be able to love them.

Translated by Joanna Bonecka