Issue #1

A Note from Tian.......

The child who lives with addiction can feel lonely and disheartened. Many of us who have had this experience understand how much it can mean to have someone...any one...notice and reach out a helping hand in the even smallest way.

Maybe that help comes in the form of a neighbor who lets you stay for dinner or a priest or rabbi who "knows" and gets you involved in faith community activities. Perhaps it's a teacher who connects you with an after school activity and tips off the faculty that you need a little extra caring, a coach who offers a safe haven and encouragement or a nurse who is someone to "come to". These critically placed people, who touch the lives of children each and every day, need to be educated as to how to help a hurting child. Doctors need to learn to ask the right questions to see if addiction is in the family, clergy and teachers need to learn the signs of kids in need or at risk and be helped to understand that connecting a child with a positive activity can make a critical difference in that child's life. Neighbors, aunts, uncles and grandparents need to know how much their caring presence and support can mean.

This is NACoA's mission, to educate and advocate. NACoA has created educational materials that can be downloaded for free and disseminated among faculty, clergy, medical professionals, friends and neighbors.

Check out and pass along this valuable resource to anyone you know in the clergy, school systems, colleges, universities, medical professionals, family and friends so that together we can help to restore a sense of caring, normalcy and routine in the life of a hurting child.

Below some of NACoA's board members share why they have committed their valuable time and effort to this organization. As for me, I am a child who grew up with addiction and I know from personal experience what difference aunts, uncles, grandmothers, teachers and clergy can make. They did for me. I am honored to be a part of the wonderful group of people involved with NACoA and to pass along this valuable resource.

For more information on Tian Dayton, please visit her website at: For more information on NACoA, please visit their website at:

In This Issue:

A Note from Tian

Robert J. Ackerman, Ph.D.

Claudia Black, Ph.D.

Stephanie Brown, Ph.D.

Timmen Cermack

Karen Head, M.ED, CEIP

Jane Middelton-Moz

Jerry Moe

Carol B. Sisco, Ph.D.

Sharon Wegscheider-Cruse

Visit the NACoA website for more information

Also read Dr. Dayton in:

Robert J. Ackerman, Ph.D.

What brought me into recovery:

Like so many other ACOAs, born years ago, there really weren't any formal, "ACOA" only programs available. Yes, Al Anon existed, but it was used primarily for spouses, not for children. I think more than anything what brought me to recovery was sharing my own story and realizing that there were generations of children of alcoholics of all ages who had similar experiences, but the same problem---silence.

As a young Captain in the U.S. Army I found myself as the director of an alcohol and drug abuse prevention and treatment program. As the director I quickly realized that not only were many of the alcoholics also children of alcoholics, but also that many of the alcoholics were parents as well. Thus for many of our clients we needed to address the problems of at least three generations.

I felt very strongly that the generation that was the most in need of help was children because they lacked a voice and a vehicle to be heard. All of this lead me to write my first book and, as it turned out, the first book in the United States on children of alcoholics in 1978.

In all honestly what brought me into recovery was trying to bring recovery to others. As my efforts grew so did my own recovery. In a way we all helped each other.

How finding recovery changed my life:

Many years ago, I wrote a book titled, Growing in the Shadow, about children of alcoholics. How did recovery change my life, it got me out of the shadow. Recovery gave me hope and a belief that I could control my life and more importantly that there was a way to do it. Over the years 12 step programs have always offered structure, guiding principles, and the support of others that have greatly influenced my life. Recovery can mean many different things to many people, but for me the greatest change has been a sense of freedom. A freedom to believe in myself and not react to others out of fear or intimidation, freedom to love and accept love, and freedom to not carry the family legacy any further have been the greatest changes in my life.

Why I support NACoA:

Without a doubt of all the organizations that I have been affiliated with or a member of, none is more important to me than NACoA. NACoA was a vision of a small group of people many years ago. When I think back we must have appeared to others to be incredibly naive, but what we lacked in organizational skills we more than made up for with passion. We wanted to create a voice for children of alcoholics. We wanted to create an organization of advocacy. If you ever get a chance to stop by NACoA's national office near Washington D.C. , do it! Every time I see the office, the diversity of projects for children of alcoholics and other addicts fills me with such a sense of excitement, accomplishment and pride. It fills me with as sense of good fortune and gratitude that I had the opportunity to be part of something that has now grown beyond me and will continue long after I am gone. NaCoA reminds me that I have been blessed.

Robert J. Ackerman, Ph.D. is a co-Founder of NACoA ;Professor and Director of the Mid-Atlantic Addiction Research & Training Institute at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of fourteen books including the first book in the United Sates on children of alcoholics. His books have been translated into thirteen languages. Has served on several federal NIH advisory boards and is the recipient of many distinguished awards.

Claudia Black, Ph.D.

It is the strength I feel around the belief that no one deserves to live with fear, loneliness and the internalized shame that comes with living with alcoholism and other drug addictions that would drive my passion to this field. I was fortunate in that while I grew up with the many ravages of addiction, I never for a moment believed that I was the cause of my parents' behaviors. And, I always intuitively understood they didn't want it to be the way it was either, but they didn't know what to do. Being other-focused allowed me to take the strengths I had and to champion for those who didn't have a voice. A confluence of God-like situations occurred and, very young in my career, I was led to begin groups for young, adolescent and adult children of alcoholics before we even had the term 'adult children.' Over the next few years, as I began to write and speak about COAs, I would meet other like-minded professionals. Understanding that we had the power to make a greater difference collectively rather than individually, NACoA was created.

Claudia Black, PhD is a renowned addiction author, speaker and trainer internationally recognized for her pioneering and contemporary work with family systems and addictive disorders. She is also Co-Founder and past Chairperson of NACoA; author of It Will Never Happen To Me and many other books and articles about young and adult children of alcoholics and impacted families, lecturer and consultant.

Stephanie Brown, Ph.D.

What brought me into recovery:

As I wrote many years ago, "I was born in the middle of my life." I was 26 years old and came to know deeply that I was an alcoholic. That moment of deep clarity in 1971 became a radical, transformational experience that has shaped the rest of my life. In psychotherapy prior to this defining moment, I had begun to question my drinking and to realize the realities of my parents' chronic severe alcoholism. I knew that I had been born and bred in a family of alcoholism and that I had lived out the exact same course. I began to "make real" the truths of my whole life and to begin a new path of development, away from what I believed would be my destiny to die young from my own chronic, severe alcoholism. In that moment of clarity, I realized that I had a choice, which I had not known before.

And so my own recovery as an alcoholic and an adult child of two alcoholic parents has been the central organizing principle of my adult life. Already in graduate school in 1971, I proceeded to ask key research questions for which I needed answers in order to understand my childhood experiences and to facilitate my recovery. What happens to children of alcoholics? How do we understand their development? Specifically, what is the impact of living with addiction, growing up with addiction? And always, I have asked: what is the process of recovery for the adult child of alcoholics, and for the adult child who becomes an alcoholic? What is the process of recovery for ACoAs in forming their own families, and what is the process of recovery for the family in which a parent stops drinking?

Why do I support NACoA?

My life is a story of trauma and transformation, created by an opportunity to face the life-long denied realities that shaped my childhood development. This opportunity is what NACoA brings: a mission to tell the truth, to name the realities of parental alcoholism, to offer hope and another path to those children who are growing up with the trauma of parental loss of control, neglect and abuse. NACoA also brings the same mission to adults who need to know what happened in order to change the course of their lives. NACoA is committed to 'making real the present and the past' so children and adult children do not have to repeat it.

Stephanie Brown PhD, is an internationally recognized expert on the treatment of alcoholics, adult children of alcoholics and all addicts and their families, based on her research defining a developmental process of active addiction and recovery. Dr. Brown is the widely-published author of ten academic and popular books on addiction and recovery, including her acclaimed first book, "Treating the Alcoholic: A Developmental Model of Recovery." She is a licensed psychologist with 35 years of clinical experience, a researcher, a consultant and a frequent lecturer in the field of addiction.

Timmen Cermak, M.D.

What brought me into recovery:

Raised in an alcoholic family without anyone naming the problem, I was searching to understand my life - first by majoring in philosophy and then by training in psychiatry. Halfway through Stephanie Brown's lecture on Adult Children of Alcoholics I realized I was finally being given the blueprint for understanding how my personality had been formed. I asked her to supervise me and she said only if I worked in her Alcohol Clinic. Working with alcoholics was a powerful experience - as comfortable as sitting in my old living room and strangely evocative of feelings and memories I had long "forgotten." This soon led to a commitment to Al-Anon to deal with my own recovery. Thirty years later I am still working in the substance abuse field, still attending Al-Anon and feeling more freedom than ever.

Why I support NACoA:

When I joined with other co-founders to establish NACoA, my goal was to use the voices of adult children of alcoholics to speak on behalf of young children who were still living with active alcoholic parents. I see my own recovery as being measured, in part, by my willingness to be of service to those who still suffer. Chapter 9 of the Big Book of AA ("The Family Afterward") is my guide when it says on page 124 "We think each family which has been relieved owes something to those who have not... the dark past is the greatest possession you have - the key to life and happiness for others. With it you can avert death and misery for them." NACoA has been averting death and misery for young children of alcoholics, my brothers and sisters, for over 25 years. My goal is for NACoA to continue its work well beyond my lifetime.

Dr. Cermak is a psychiatrist, co-Founder and past Board Chairman of NACoA and the newly installed President of the California Society of Addiction Medicine.

Karen Head, M.ED, CEIP

What brought me into recovery:

My children have always been my strongest motivation to recover. The love I felt for my children brought me into recovery.

How did finding recovery change my life?

Before recovery I did not know God, or unconditional love. I did not have the tools to survive even the easiest life because from infancy I had learned to filter all of my experiences through shame. My accomplishments were meaningless but minor mistakes were absolute proof that I was flawed.

In recovery, people loved me through my negative thinking and raging towards the world. They showed me the way out of shame- based living and the steps to self-acceptance. Prayer and meditation are a daily practice for me now. Because of recovery, I have faith in God and no matter what I have a support system.

In recovery I trusted myself to follow what I knew to be true in my heart. It is here, in this one step, that recovery began for me. Today in my work, my horses and I guide people to risk trusting their insight and knowing.

Why I support NACoA:

27 years ago, the first NACoA conference formed the bridge from applying abstract ideas of growing up in an alcoholic family to being absolutely clear about the chaos my parent's addictions created in my life. More importantly, I learned about how to heal. At that conference we were reaching into the future by telling the truth about alcoholism in the family. Adult children from alcoholic homes, some for the first time, realized that their challenges and obstacles to peaceful living stemmed from a disease process and not from some horrible defect. In our speaking out we began to heal. In our healing, we offered to future generations freedom from what had been an endless cycle of addiction in families. NACoA created a community of growth and change for people who, like me, had believed themselves to be flawed, unlovable and hopeless.

NACoA was the door to freedom for me.

Karen Head, the founder and director of Equinection, is an internationally recognized practitioner in equine facilitated learning. She has worked with hundreds of participants, helping them to experience authenticity in their own lives. Karen serves on the Board of Directors for NACoA and offers workshops for people in recovery. This work includes a special focus for helping professionals to gain clarity and congruity in their lives.

Jane Middelton-Moz

What brought you into recovery?

I began my journey into what would become the recovery movement in l976 when I wrote my Masters thesis on Adult Children of Alcoholics. I grew up in an alcoholic family (both my parents as well as extended family were alcoholic) and I was surprised that nothing in my education to that point had dealt with the effects growing up in an alcoholic family. Then, in 1978 when I was Clinical Director of Seattle Mental Health Institute, I became aware that many of those that came to the Institute were children, and Adult Children of Alcoholics and had never dealt with the issues affecting their lives. Many had been misdiagnosed without the awareness that these children and adult children were experiencing normal responses to painful lives and their symptoms were directly related to growing up in alcoholic families. Lorie Dwinell, who was a consultant at Seattle Mental Health, and I began doing workshops for Adult Children of Alcoholics in the greater Seattle area and our Children's Services Department began working with children of alcoholics and their families. Later, we connected with others throughout the country that had also been working with COA's.

Why are you involved with NACoA's mission?

Growing up in an alcoholic family affects the lives of million of children of alcoholics worldwide. Because of the efforts of NACOA, educators, therapists, human service professionals are government officials, are now receiving the education they need to work with, understand, and advocate for children of alcoholics.

Jane Middelton-Moz is the Director of the Middelton-Moz Institute a division of The Institute of Professional Practice, Inc. and has been on the advisory board of the National Association for Native American Children of Alcoholics and the board of the National Association Children of Alcoholics. Ms. Middelton-Moz is author of Children of Trauma: Rediscovering Your Discarded Self, After the Tears: Reclaiming the Personal Losses of Childhood and several other books.Ms. Middelton-Moz has appeared on national television including Oprah, Maury Povich, Montel Williams and had her own PBS special

Jerry Moe

What brought you into recovery?

I was incredibly blessed to find the Alateen program when I was fourteen years old. I got to spend my teen years working the twelve steps, finding comfort and solace from peers experiencing the same challenges with family addiction, and engaging in service work to reach out to other hurting teens.

This program gave me the skills, support, and many helpful tools to live in a family with active addiction. Once my parents asked for help these same Alateen principles guided me through the many challenges of early recovery in our family.

As an older teen I became a conference speaker sharing my experience, strength, and hope at Al-Anon and Alcoholics Anonymous conventions. More than anything the Alateen program helped me realize that this family disease was not my fault and I was not alone. The twelve steps provided a framework to not only live with the alcoholism in my family but also the guidelines to live all aspects of my life one day at a time.

I became an Alateen sponsor at 21 to give back all the many gifts I had received from the program. Alateen helped me to love and accept myself, realize my many strengths, and care for myself in brand new ways.

Why do you support NACoA?

I have been a member of NACoA from virtually its inception. I served for many years on its Board of Directors and currently on its Advisory Board. NACoA is the voice for children growing up in families hurt by alcoholism and other drug addiction. It is the not for profit membership and affiliate organization devoted exclusively to children and families hurt by addiction. NACoA believes that none of these vulnerable children should grow up in isolation and without support.

NACoA advocates for and helps these kids in a variety of ways. NACoA raises public awareness, advances professional knowledge and understanding, and advocates for appropriate, effective, and accessible education and prevention services.

As a children's counselor who has worked with this special population for over 30 years, I especially appreciate NACoA for creating videos, booklets, posters, and other educational materials to assist those in a position to help the one in four youth from addicted families.

NACoA is all about solutions and hope. With my limited time and resources, I have volunteered to serve NACoA and have contributed to its mission generously. I have witnessed, time and time again, the difference NACoA is making in the world. I only wish it could have been around to help the confused and hurting kid I was back in elementary school. Today, spearheaded by NACoA's leadership, that help is now available.

Jerry Moe (Palm Desert, CA) serves as the National Director of Children's Programs at the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage, California, and is an advisory board member of the National Association for Children of Alcoholics. A lecturer and trainer, Moe founded the Children's Place Program in Redwood City, California.

Carol B. Sisco, Ph.D., M.S.W

What brought me into recovery:

When I think about the impact of addiction on my family, I am reminded of a Claire Booth Luce reflection about a prominent American family. Ms. Luce wrote: "Where else among real people could one encounter such triumphs and tragedies, such beauty and charm and ambition and pride and human wreckage, such dedication to the best and lapses into the mire of life; such vulgar, noble, driven, generous, self-centered, loving, suspicious, devious, honorable, vulnerable people?"

I have a wonderful family. Unfortunately, I have also experienced how living in the presence of addiction--whether present or past-can harm family members for generations.

What brought me into NACoA:

I often find a spiritual explanation for what some people consider coincidence. Two major "non-coincidences" have been instrumental in my recovery.

The first experience came in the form of a graduate school field placement. Contrary to my request, I was assigned to a practicum in an addiction treatment center. In spite of my resistance to further exposure to substance abusers, the placement spawned an intellectual metamorphosis that led me to my life's work with female substance abusers and with children who live in substance abusing households.

The second experience came in the form of a gift from my Aunt Jane. In 1985 this loving, generous recovering woman offered our family the opportunity to attend the First National Convention of Children of Alcoholics. Through the voices of NACoA's founders, I learned about families like mine. And with this paradigm shift came an emotional metamorphosis accompanied by the relief from feeling alone. Though I had little sense of what this new journey would entail, I remember deciding that some day I would serve on the Board of NACoA.

What keeps me involved in NACoA:

I have been a member of NACoA since 1985. I was invited to join NACoA's Board in 2007. remain active in NACoA for the same reasons that I joined. I want today's children and family members who live in substance abusing homes to understand that they: are not alone, are not to blame and have choices. I want to promote and facilitate resilience in these children and their families. I want these children to have the opportunity, as I did in 1985, to experience the hope that their lives can be different.

Carol B. Sisco, Ph.D., M.S.W is the Director of Sisco Associates and the current Chair of NACoA Board of Directors

Sharon Wegscheider-Cruse

What got me into recovery?

My recovery as a child who came from a long line of alcoholism began in l972. I was a young wife and mother of three precious children. I had always been an over-achiever and loved caring for my home and family.

Then on Christmas Eve, 1961, my beloved father committed suicide. It was a traumatic event that began a chain of events in my life. The shock, the pain, the loss and the grief was piercing and deep. Because I was the family caretaker, I spun into action and did all the outward things that needed to be done. Inside, I emotionally froze and stayed that way for some time.

Ten years later, I continued the behavior I grew up with. I performed with success my outside life. Inside I went deeper into the canyon of frozen feelings and pain. It was finally diagnosed as depression.

I tried many kinds of therapy. These efforts included psychiatry, psychology, social worker visits, church involvement and too many others to mention. I tried to attend Alanon meetings because instinctively I knew that my father's alcoholism and my mother's prescription pill use was tied to my depression. I was told I could not attend Alanon meetings because I was not married to an alchoholic.

One night, at a dinner party, someone mentioned there was an addition treatment center in another state that took "almost anybody". That, I thought, was me. I left immediately for that addiction center. When I arrived, a crusty old man opened the door and said, "What the hell are doing here at 11:00 at night?". I burst into tears and said, I am tired, guilty, hurting and angry. He said to me, "which of your parents are addicted?" I said "both". He looked at me, took my hand and said, "come on it, I think we can help you".

I entered that treatment program of 60 alcoholic men and me - a woman who didn't drink. I found information, understanding, a place to share my emotions and the 12 step way of life. I had come home. That was the beginning for me--------37 years ago.

Why are you committed to NACoA's Mission?

The work NACoA has done over the years has changed the course in the way children of alcoholics are now discovered, supported and treated. It is a magical organization and has been served by some of the most dedicated and brilliant professionals in the fields of addictions, mental health, medicine, spirituality and education.

On a personal level, I met other adults who had grown up in alcoholic homes and not only survived, but thrived through being a part of the beginnings of the organization. We now began to understand the meaning of "adult children of alcoholics". The early board members became like brothers and sisters who were telling the family secrets and supporting each other. It gave each of us courage, inner comfort and a sense of belonging. There was a healing I felt as we combined our stories and our expertise and dedicated ourselves to bring light to this very dark issue. I will treasure always my NACoA days.

Sharon Wegscheider-Cruse was one of the founding board members of NAC0A and the founder of Onsite Workshops, Tennessee. She is a marriage and family therapist, author of many books and films and a well known public speaker. Her most recent book is CALLING ALL WOMEN. She is recognized in the addictions field as the developer of the roles (family hero, scapegoat, lost child and mascot).

Dr. Dayton's next public workshop will be at the Northeast Conference on Behavioral and Addictive Disorders in Philadelphia, October 26th - 28th.