Family interactions of alcoholics as related to alcoholism type and drinking condition.Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2001 Jun; 25(6):835-43.AC
Several studies have reported that the marital interactions of antisocial and aggressive, versus nonantisocial and nonaggressive, alcoholics exhibit higher rates of aversive-defensive communications and higher levels of negative reciprocity. To extend these findings, we examined the effect of alcoholism type (high- versus low-antisocial alcoholics: HAS, LAS) and drinking condition on family communication patterns.
Marital and parent-child dyads from 100 alcoholic families were videotaped while they discussed personally relevant issues during drinking and no-drinking sessions (no children were offered any alcohol). All interactions were coded with the Marital Interaction Coding System, and the data were assessed for differences in rate of positive, negative, and problem-solving behaviors, as well as sequential structures.
HAS couples were more negative during the drink versus no-drink condition, whereas drinking did not affect negativity for LAS couples. In addition, the negative communications of HAS versus LAS alcoholics were more likely to increase spouse negativity during the drink versus no-drink condition. Group differences for parent-child interactions were few.
The nature of family interactions was related to both alcoholism type and alcohol consumption, and the marital interactions of alcoholism types could be differentiated on the basis of the frequency and sequential structure of negative exchanges. It is most important to note that it is the interactions of the HAS alcoholic that undergo the most change as a function of drinking condition, with little support for the "adaptive consequences" hypothesis that alcohol consumption leads to more effective problem-solving for couples in which the alcoholic exhibits fewer antisocial and more internalizing characteristics. Study limitations and directions for future research are discussed.