Psychopathology and Coping strategies in adolescent children of patients with alcohol dependence in an urban population

  • Ajit R Naik
  • Shilpa A Adarkar


Background: Alcohol dependence is a mental disorder and a “Family illness.” Indian survey on substance use (2019) found 14.6% of the population (age 10 to 75 years) using alcohol. Adolescence is crucial with social and biological changes. Parental alcohol dependence causes a chaotic family environment. Adolescent children comprise 21% of the Indian population, and those having drinking parents face a lot of stress. Effective coping is a crucial component of resilience.

Aim: To Study psychopathology, coping, and their association in adolescent children of patients with alcohol dependence and comparing with adolescent children of parents without alcohol dependence.

Methods: Subjects were adolescent children of patients with alcohol dependence in a tertiary care hospital, and controls were children of parents without alcohol dependence selected from a school. CBCL was applied to study psychopathology and A-COPE for coping strategies.

Results: Subjects included 67 boys and 33 girls whose fathers were alcohol dependent. Thirty-nine children did unskilled work to earn money, including students. The majority had academic problems, less involvement in games, selective friends and substance use. Subjects had high internalizing (mainly girls) and externalizing scores (mainly boys) compared to controls indicating higher psychopathology. Subjects would cope by ventilating feelings while controls developed social support and sought professional help. Comparing coping in subjects, boys avoided problems, used humour and relaxation while girls sought spiritual support.

Conclusion: Psychopathology in adolescent children of drinking parents is higher, and they lack problem-focused coping strategies. Early screening and interventions improving coping with individualized care considering social context are important.

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