Graduation Year


Document Type

Senior Thesis


Bachelor of Arts

Primary Major

Communication and Media Studies

Primary Minor

Philosophy and Religion Studies

Thesis Advisor

Bradley Van Alstyne, PhD


In the United States alone, 25% of children live with an alcoholic parent (Haverfield et al., 2016). While there is extensive research on the psychological impacts of growing up with an alcoholic parent, research focused on communication is slim. This paper seeks to examine the communication characteristics in adult children of alcoholics (ACOAs) in three ways: (1) to determine how communication dynamics in alcoholic families are detrimental, (2) to determine the implications of these dynamics in adulthood, and (3) to determine how communication can be implemented as a solution for ACOAs. Several interviews were conducted on ACOAs based on those goals. Additionally, existing research was examined to determine background, implications for communication, and possible interventions. Alcoholism is often referred to as a family disease, and the children of those families experience specific psychological effects that carry on to adulthood (Hall and Webster, 2007). This has a direct correlation to communication patterns. The goal of this study is to determine how having an alcoholic parent affects communication tendencies, and to determine what communication-based solutions are beneficial to ACOAs. Communication is the foundation of all relationships, whether romantic, platonic, professional, or familial. Findings indicate that there are several viable mitigators for the negative effects that ACOAs endure, but they must be tailored to the individual.