In Denmark, more than 60,000 children grow up in a home in which at least one of the parents has been hospitalized due to an alcohol-related diagnosis. The exact number of children growing up in a home with alcohol abuse is unknown. Research show that if the problem goes unnoticed it may have psychological, social and emotional consequences for the child in his or her adult life. For instance, every third child of an alcoholic develops alcohol abuse as an adult. At the moment there are 632.000 adut children of alcoholics living in Denmark. When seeking help, this group of people is mostly referred to private and voluntary help as the law does not guarantee help for adult children of alcoholics. These private and voluntary offers of help are often religious or spiritual in character. Several studies on alcoholism have shown that religion and spirituality can play an important part in the healing process. Very little research has been done on how faith, religion and spirituality can act as factors in the healing process of adult children of alcoholics or other dysfunctional parents though.
Through an in-depth qualitative study of Adult Children Anonymous (ACA), I have investigated how faith, spirituality and religion can play a part in the healing process of three informants. Using mainly ritual theory, actor-network theory, post-ant analytical concepts, I have explained how the healing process in a twelve step program such as ACA can work as a transformation process for the person seeking help. This matter has been investigated by asking how spiritual communities such as ACA deal with defence mechanisms such as isolation, co-dependence and denial.
The findings show that former defence mechanisms used to cope with childhood experiences can be transformed into another way of coping with life, through spiritual and religious aspects. The twelve step program offers a framework in which the individual’s self-understanding can be decomposed and reconstructed by the help of the ACA community. A process that transforms the individual’s way of thinking of him or herself, others, the childhood experiences and the world. But can a transformation, a healing process, or even a salvation be said to be final? Or is it an ongoing, never ending proces and if so how is it possible to monitor this form of movement?