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Children of an Alcoholic

"Children of an Alcoholic, An interview with Dick Prodey"
copyright 2011, all rights reserved

by Toby Rice Drews
author of the "Getting Them Sober" books

This is an interview with Dick Prodey, lecturer (for over 20 years) on addictions--- at Sheppard Pratt Psychiatric Hospital in Baltimore.

Q.: What are the current statistics on how many Children of an Alcoholic become alcoholics themselves?

Dick: Children of an Alcoholic have a 4-times-stronger genetic chance of becoming alcoholics themselves, than do children whose parents/grandparents are not alcoholics.

Of course, there are those who say it's not genetic because they don't 'see' or 'hear about it' in their family. That is not taking into account, all the silence, all the shame that causes denial, and the fact that if you ask people over a certain age, they are not likely to say there was alcoholism unless the person was in the gutter or "was not a good provider''.

And hardly any women were ever "called" alcoholics even if they were falling down drunk.

My favorite adult child of alcoholic story is the guy in A.A. who said that at age 6, he punched his father in the stomach, and yelled "how could you do this to your family"...........and this same guy wound up in A.A. himself at the age of 35.

Q: Dick, what do you say to people who say there is "an addictive personality''.

Dick: I say there is not any such thing. No one or several 'personality types' are set-ups to become alcoholics or addicts. But, afterwards, when the addiction has already taken hold, there are resultant brain damage//changes.......... then there occur changes in behavior that is often interpreted as "personality'' changes. But with sobriety, for most people, that heals and most people recover their basic selves.

Q.: There is 'literature' that is 'out there' that says that alcoholism is not a genetic disease, but equally-important multi-factorial issues cause the disease.

Dick: The MOST significant scientific study is that of George Valliant, of Harvard, who conducted a 40-year prospective study of alcoholics. Every five years, they looked for "correlations'' between how people were raised, whether there were broken homes, socio-economic status, education, communication skills, whether or not people had a "listening ear'' when there were growing up, religious background......... etc......... and NOTHING correlated with those who became alcoholics except genetics.

The core researches in alcoholism no longer ask, "Is it genetic?"--------- but "what genes specifically are causing this disease?"

Q.: Why do you think that, often, 'studies' are published ------ that say that the decades-long experts who work and who are respected in the field of alcoholism, are all wrong about these issues? Dick: It's interesting. In no other field does this happen! If someone is a known expert in podiatry, for instance, experts from other fields don't say, "Well, I know better than you about feet!" If a cardiologist meets an ENT, he does not challenge the core community of longtime experts in the field of ENT, and say, "I know better than you all about ENT!"

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