Date of Conferral







Elisabeth Weinbaum


Researchers have identified adult children of alcoholics (ACOAs) as being susceptible to substance abuse, intimate partner violence, mental health instability, and a myriad of psychosocial inadequacies. Growing up within an adverse childhood environment has also imprinted an unwanted stigma among ACOAs. Although there are many studies on the ACOA population, there is a significant gap in the literature between ACOAs exhibiting resilience and those who succumb to the negative characteristics of growing up within an adverse environment. The purpose of this hermeneutic, phenomenological study was to examine the lived experiences of adult children of alcoholics who have succeeded despite their upbringing. A purposive sample of 11 participants from the northwestern United States were interviewed regarding their childhood experiences. The overarching research question was focused on how resilience has affected their life, and the secondary research question addressed perspectives regarding positive adaptation and the stigma of familial alcoholism. The theoretical frameworks that provided support included the health belief model as well as the social cognitive theory, and hermeneutic phenomenological study helped identify and construct the essence of the phenomenon from in-depth interviews from participants. Common themes (perseverance, positivity, and determination) were identified and categorized for ease of analysis. The results contribute to positive social change by helping health care providers in delivering valuable, pertinent assistance to those ACOAs who continue to struggle for a better quality of life.