Date of Conferral
Tracey M. Phillips
Previous researchers have indicated that alcohol use disorder affects relationships between family members. Exposure to parental alcohol use disorder disrupts important relationship skill-building development between the children of the family, and may impact conflict resolution in later life relationships. The sibling relationship provides a learning opportunity on how to manage conflict, yet little is known about the effects of parental alcohol use disorder on the sibling-to-sibling relationship from the perspective of adult siblings. The purpose of this descriptive phenomenological enquiry was to explore the lived experiences of adult siblings who experienced parental alcohol use disorder in their family of origin. In-depth, face-to-face interviews were conducted with a purposeful sample of 8 sibling pairs who grew up in the same isolated, remote, and densely populated community, each of whom experienced parental alcohol use disorder. Initial participants were recruited during open 12 Step meetings with subsequent siblings recruited using a snowballing technique. Sixteen audio taped interviews were manually transcribed and then coded for themes using a typology classification system based on key terms, word repetitions, and metaphors. The alcoholic family system was found to be traumatic and abusive, resulting in maladaptive coping behaviors, especially in the area of conflict. Findings also highlighted the strength of the sibling bond in the face of adversity and the opportunity for resilience under challenging circumstances. This study contributes to social change by informing the design of targeted interventions for siblings, specifically, by suggesting a change from the current focus on the identified client to a more holistic approach to treatment.