The aim of the study was to investigate the relationship between alcohol abuse by parents and the conventional drinking assessments. The study also focused on determining whether maternal and paternal alcohol abuse is related to the use of alcohol and other drugs among ACOAs. In order to achieve these objectives, the following six hypotheses were made. First, college students who are ACOAs are likely to begin drinking at a younger age as compared to their non-ACOAs counterparts. Second, ACOAs are more likely to consume alcohol as compared to non-ACOAs. Third, considering students who drink alcohol in colleges, the ACOAs are more likely to be involved in more frequent, as well as, heavy drinking as compared to the non-ACOAs. Fourth, frequent and heavy drinking among ACOAs is correlated with abuse of alcohol by both parents or by mothers. Fifth, college students who are ACOAs are more likely to begin using illicit drugs at earlier ages compared to their non-ACOAs counterparts. Finally, college students who are ACOAs have a higher likelihood of using illicit drugs than non-ACOA students.
The variables considered in the study include the following. There were three independent variables which include the current drinking status of the participants (ACOAs and non-ACOAs college students), drug use, and sex of the parent who is involved in alcohol abuse. The dependent variable was the drinking behavior of ACOAs and non-ACOAs college students.
The researchers used a quantitative research method to conduct their study. Numerical data that describe the drinking behavior of the participants were collected with the aid of surveys. The measures used in the research are as follows. First, a socio-demographic questionnaire was used to collect data about the participants’ age, ethnicity, year in college, and marital status. Second a drug use questionnaire was used to collect data about the participants’ drinking behavior. Examples of data collected by this questionnaire include the age at which the participants began drinking, and the number of drinks they consumed in a day. Finally, ACOAs screening test questionnaire was used to investigate the possibility that a participant lived with an alcohol-abusing parent in their childhood. The ‘yes’ or ‘no’ responses to items included in this questionnaire were coded as 1 and 0 respectively. Data analysis was done with the aid of statistical techniques such as chi-squares, descriptive statistics, and regression analysis.
The population was students learning in a large university which is located in the southeastern part of the United States of America. A sample of 627 undergraduate students was selected to participate in the research. Students included in the sample were classified as either ACOAs or non-ACOAs. Consequently, students who could not be classified as either ACOAs or non-ACOAs were removed from the sample. The elimination process reduced the sample size to 572 students. 24 percent (136 students) of the participants were classified as ACOAs while the remaining 76 percent (436 students) were classified as non-ACOAs. 78.6 percent or 450 of the participants were female. The sample had a mean age of 21.47 years. First-year and sophomore students accounted for 31.2% and 27.9% of the sample respectively. Junior and senior students accounted for 24.8% and 14.9% of the sample respectively. The remaining 1.3% of the sample consisted of post-bachelor students. 55.2% of the sample consisted of whites while 29.2% consisted of blacks. Asians and Hispanics accounted for 6.8% and 2.8% of the sample respectively. 3% of the sample consisted of Native Americans while the remaining 5.6% indicated their ethnicity as ‘other’.
The research findings were as follows. There was no significant relationship between ACOA classification and students who identified themselves as current drinkers. After introducing a control for ethnicity, ACOA classification was found to be a non-significant predictor of the number of days in a week in which participants consumed one or more alcoholic drinks. ACOAs whose fathers abused alcohol were more likely to identify themselves as drinkers as compared to ACOAs who lived with either a mother who abused alcohol or both parents who had alcohol problems. Alcohol abuse by fathers was found to be a significant predictor of the number of days in a week in which the participants consumed one or more alcoholic drinks. ACOAs were found to begin drinking at least one year earlier than their non-ACOAs counterparts. A significant correlation was also found between ACOAs and drug use. However, there was no significant correlation between the sex of the participants and paternal or maternal alcohol abuse. Besides, ACOAs did not begin using drugs earlier than non-ACOAs.
Limitations of the Study
The research had the following limitations. First, the researchers relied entirely on self-reports given by students. This limited the researchers’ ability to get an in-depth understanding of the participants’ drinking behavior by obtaining information from multiple sources. Second, the reports on parents’ drinking behavior were obtained only from the students. This increased the chances of bias. Third, causal associations between ACOA classification and substance use could not be determined since the data was collected contemporaneously. Finally, the ability to generalize the findings was limited by the nature of the drinking behavior of college students.
Extension of the Research
Given the above limitations, the researchers identified the need to extend research in the following areas. First, drinking behavior among students should be assessed from multiple sources such as parents and friends in order to improve the reliability of information. Second, parents’ drinking behavior should also be assessed from multiple sources in order to improve reliability. Besides, the accuracy of ACOA classification can be improved by assessing students whose parents have already been identified as alcoholics.