Stephanie Abbott, M.A., NACoA Publications Editor & Family Counselor
In The Beginning
On Valentine’s Day in 1983, twenty pioneers who cared about the plight of children of alcoholics met in California to formalize their vision of a national organization that would be a voice for these children of all ages, and would mobilize community awareness and involvement. They were program developers, social workers, psychiatrists, clinicians, researchers, writers, and professors who had found each other in mid-1982, mostly by word of mouth. They formed what became the National Association for Children of Alcoholics.”
The goals established by the NACoA founders focused on 1) protecting the rights of Children of Addiction (COAs) to live in safe and healthy environments by mobilizing community involvement; 2) increasing public and professional awareness, understanding, and recognition of the needs of COAs of all ages, especially in the fields of education, human services, mental health, medicine, religion, and law enforcement. A very tall order indeed.
25 Years Later
The organization had moved offices to Washington, DC to enable us to form more coalitions and collaborations with other organizations and agencies to extend the reach of effectiveness. We began to host major annual national and regional training conferences featuring researchers, clinicians and prevention professionals. We are here, at the office, on our website, in articles we write for professional magazines and journals, through our network of affiliate organizations across the nation, on our toll-free phone which draws inquiries and requests from around the world, and a newsletter both online and in print. We create and distribute books, pamphlets, videos and training materials.
We are widening our scope of commitment. NACoA has long been aware that a parent or guardian who is an extreme hoarder, obsessed with food, loses the family house at Las Vegas, chases doctors for legal mood changers, is dopey from pot every day, or has a regular dealer in any illegal substance, is unavailable to their children. Worse, that parent can’t make good choices, be reliable, or a safe harbor in time of trouble.
Now there is an alarming and heartbreaking epidemic of opiate use. We have all seen the videos of frightened small children trying to wake their parents who are passed out in public places. We recognize the blank stare of the young boy in the back seat with his parents slumped and unconscious in the front seat of the family car. He probably has his seat belt on.
To underline our awareness that all families with addictions suffer grief and stress and deserve understanding and support we are changing our name to reflect that reality. We are still NACoA, but now it, and we, stand for the National Association for Children of Addiction.
Stephanie Abbott, M.A., NACoA Publications Editor and Family Counselor, has contributed significantly to the understanding and appreciation of the impact parental alcoholism has on children. Her publications include: Talk, Trust, and Feel: Keeping Codependency Out of Your Life; Codependency: A Second Hand Life; and Family Album: Alcoholism, Co-Dependence, and Other Addictions.