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Barbara Gruszka- Zych is talking with the Father Grzegorz Polok about fear, lilies and drinking

Barbara Gruszka-Zych: Today the image of families having problems with alcohol has changed.

Grzegorz Polok:- These are not only pathological families, nowadays it becomes more and more popular that wealthy men drink. It is worth knowing that in Poland over 25 billion zlotys was spent on alcohol last year, what shows the scale of this phenomenon. The number of drinking people has changed as well. Not only men drink but also more and more women do that. There has appeared the phenomenon of drinking businesswomen. Reaching for alcohol helps to relieve stress, it is a way of spending free time, and in many cases- a result of family habits. A grandson, whose grandfather was an alcoholic, is three times more prone to become addicted than his peer who had sober grandparents. It is terrifying that 60 % of girls from dysfunctional families promise themselves that they won’t marry an alcoholic, and then they do it. They have a broken sense of choosing, and on the other hand, they think they will cope with an alcoholic husband because they did it at home. Unfortunately, it is a snowball effect. According to the forecasts, if children from dysfunctional families set up a family with an addicted wife of husband and if they do not work out the problems taken from family home, it is more likely that their children will be involved in similar relationships.

Is this the reason why many of them prefer to remain single?

- They do not want to set up families to avoid repeating the purgatory they had to get through or they feel unable to build a relationship.

Does one remain an adult child of alcoholic until the end of time?

-Yes, if you grew up in a family with some dysfunction. Speaking of dysfunction, I think of families in which both or one of the parents abuse or is addicted to alcohol. Sometimes alcohol is a “guest” in such a house, and sometimes it is a bottle of beer drunk by a Father or mother. But, both have an impact on their behavior. Dysfunctional families are also families in which there was a divorce, the absence of one of the parents or parents are present but their requirements are very high, they become emotionally cold towards their children. Children, in such a situation, have no chance to grow up fully.

What do they feel then?

They feel fear, low self-esteem, a strong need for „confirming” themselves. It stems from the fact that they used to get contradictory statements from their parents, they didn’t feel their warmth or support because a mother or father lacked love in their past as well. Approximately 40 % of adult Poles can be classified as adult children of alcoholics. There are also several percent of people showing similar symptoms like people living in the families with alcoholic problems. However, it was caused by divorce or lack of one of the parents. In any case, we cannot show only the percentage, it is always a different experience and a great secret of suffering.

Being a child of alcoholics is not a lifetime sentence.

- Absolutely, no adult child of alcoholics is a lesser person, they should only do something about it. They need to realize that it is a challenge that must be faced. They have to remember that he is not alone, that despite many fears, the feeling of uncertainty, the will to escape, he has a chance of change. For some group of people this burden becomes a kind of blessing. It gives them a greater sensibility that is necessary to understand other people. About the people who having overcome their difficult experiences and help other people now we may say that they are the lilies that grew on manure.

Your book costs only 5 zlotys and students get it for free.

-We published it at our expense. There have been meetings of a therapeutic group consisting of 15 people for 6 years in our ministry. Their members plucked up the courage to speak about their suffering to show that you do not have to break under its burden or change it into something good. If someone reads their testimony and finds their problem in it, it will be the beginning of the road for him. In this book I tried also to show the religious dimension of this problem. I tried to show that God who heals in a community through sacraments and Holy Spirit, gives sense to every suffering. Of course, it is a long-term process but consequently, you can fill many holes that make your life more difficult. Adult children of alcoholics learn slowly to stand upright with this backpack with rocks inside and start to throw them out gradually. At the end of the book, there is an e-mail address ( wnmp(at) ) at which the readers can write to us about their experiences.

Translated by Justyna Gałuch