Our Vision

NACoA envisions a world in which no child who struggles because of family addiction will be left unsupported.

Our Mission

To eliminate the adverse impact of alcohol and drug use on children and families.


  • To raise public awareness
  • To provide leadership in public policy at the national, state and local level
  • To inform and educate academic and other community systems
  • To advocate for appropriate education and prevention services
  • To facilitate the exchange of information and resources
  • To initiate and advance professional knowledge and understanding
  • To advocate for accessible programs and services

To accomplish
this mission we are

  • A 501(c)(3) membership organization which includes national, regional and international affiliate groups and cooperative relationships with partner organizations
  • A national center for information, education and advocacy for COAs of all ages, including:
    • the latest research information
    • culturally and linguistically sensitive materials
  • A policy and program development center that obtains input from expert scientists, opinion leaders, policy makers, practitioners and leaders in systems that impact children's lives
  • A central point of input for children’s health and welfare advocates and service providers who address populations of COAs

Who We Are

Adults +

We are adult children of alcoholic parents who struggled in silence to make sense of what was irrational, unpredictable and frightening for too many days of our childhood, and we want it to be better for today’s and tomorrow’s children.

Professionals +

We are concerned professionals — doctors, social workers, attorneys, teachers, family counselors, early childhood professionals and developmental psychologists, clergy and pastoral counselors — who see the painful consequences of growing up with an alcoholic or drug dependent parent.

Students +

We are college students and other young adults who have realized that keeping silent all our growing up years didn’t fix anything at home, and we want to help break the silence and reach thousands of others through social media to have a little more hope and safety than we had.

Volunteers +

We are youth workers, coaches, volunteers, grandparents, and neighbors who wanted to help a hurting child we cared about and came to NACoA for guidance because we didn’t know what to do. NACoA helped us and now we are giving back to help others.

NACoA’s mission is to eliminate the adverse impact of alcohol and drug use on children and families. Using our network of the most respected experts in the field, we provide solutions to address these impacts effectively. NACoA envisions a world in which no child who struggles because of family addiction will be left unsupported.

If you are dealing with a parent who abuses alcohol or drugs -- or have a relative or friend who does -- we’re here to help. NACoA offers resources for everyone, including providing support for professionals with tools and training in order to better support individuals in pain due to alcohol and drug dependency in their families.

One in four children under the age of 18 years are touched by the adverse effects of a parent abusing alcohol or drugs. We are the voice for these children, and have been for over 30 years. We are fueled by a deep and abiding passion to break the silence for millions of children in families entrapped by the "no talk" rule. We work to ensure that they can find their own voice, and by sharing their experiences find the hope and healing they deserve.

We offer a variety of programs and products uniquely designed to offer support and assist you at home or in the workplace

NACoA is the only national membership organization focusing on the children of parents struggling with alcohol or substance abuse. Additionally, we are working internationally through affiliates in Great Britain, Germany, Poland, New Zealand, and Brazil.

Our Founders

30 years later, the NACoA Founders are still individually involved in a variety of work that impacts children growing up in families with addiction. These founders are each addressing the needs of adults who are still feeling the painful impact of adverse childhood experiences as a result of growing up with addiction in their families. They have never lost the passion that moved them to create NACoA.

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He is professor of sociology and Director of the Mid-Atlantic Addiction Training Institute at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, a Fulbright Scholar, and consultant to the Suzanne Somers Institute. He has published numerous articles and research findings, including the first book on children of alcoholics in the U.S. thirty years ago. Dr. Ackerman is program chair for the ACOA/COA conference where NACoA hosted a 25th birthday party. www.robertjackerman.com

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Claudia Black’s seminal work with children impacted by substance abuse in the late 1970s created the foundation for the adult child movement. Today Claudia is a renowned author and trainer internationally recognized for her pioneering and contemporary work with family systems and addictive disorders. Claudia designs and presents training workshops and seminars to professional audiences in the field of family service, mental health, and addictive disorders. Since 1998 she has been a Senior Fellow and Addiction and Trauma Program Specialist at The Meadows Treatment Center in Arizona. In addition to her advisory board work with NACoA, she has been instrumental in the development of Camp Mariposa, a camp experience for young children affected by family addiction. Camp Mariposa is in several cities throughout the United States as a part of the Moyer (Jamie & Karen) Foundation. Author of over fifteen books, Claudia’s It Will Never Happen to Me and My Dad Loves Me My Dad Has A Disease are two classic books that continue to be ‘must reads’ for family members and professionals. ClaudiaBlack.com

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Founder and Executive Director of the Next Step Institute of Integrative Medicine in Vail, Colorado, she also serves on its team of clinical directors, which includes her husband, Gary M. Weiss, M.D. Cathleen has pioneered work in the field of childhood trauma and the association between unresolved emotional pain and physical illness. Her own battles with cancer and chronic pain inspired her to join with Next Step’s other clinical directors 15 years ago to design a unique model program for treating chronic pain and illness. This program, located in Palm Bay, Florida, became the foundation for Next Step’s more extensive Wellness Programs in Colorado. Cathleen’s book for teenage COAs, The Secret Everyone Knows, written over 25 years ago, became an instant classic. www.nextstepinstitute.org

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Julie D. Bowden, M.S., is an internationally recognized authority in the area of childhood trauma and codependency. First treasurer of the National Association for Children of Alcoholics, Bowden co-authored the classic, Recovery: A Guide for Adult Children of Alcoholics and Genesis: Spirituality in Recovery from Childhood Traumas. Her latest book, The Last Workshop, is a novel based on 25 years facilitating groups at Esalen Institute. It is due out late 2014. Julie facilitates group psychotherapy for childhood trauma and substance abuse at Esalen Institute, Mt. Madonna Center, and La Casa de Maria, all in California. She has developed two new courses: “Mothers and Daughters,” and late stage recoverywork, “Forgiveness.” She currently supervises interns at the Community Counseling and Education Center in Santa Barbara, CA where she has an independent private psychotherapy practice. www.juliebowden.com


Dr. Brown’s many contributions to the field include research, teaching, and publishing, including her noted work at The Family Recovery Research Institute in California. She is at work on her latest book Speed: When You Can’t Go Any Faster and You Can’t Stop. One of her many research articles was for Family Therapy magazine this past year, “Children of Alcoholics,” co-authored with Stephanie Abbott, editor of NETWORK.www.stephaniebrownphd.com


Dr. Cermak is currently focused on effective treatment for adolescents who are harmfully involved in alcohol and other drugs. He notes that since a high percentage of these teens are children of addicts, this is the same population he was concerned about when he became involved in founding NACoA. He wrote White Papers on marijuana for the California Society of Addictive Medicine when California passed its medical marijuana law, and a book for parents: Marijuana: What’s a Parent to Do? He continues in private practice, and was named Best Psychiatrist by San Francisco Magazine.


Today she spends most of her time in the political arena, working on various local, state and national campaigns. She still maintains a small private practice, primarily with parents of addicted teens. She served as NACoA’s first Executive Director, and has served on the Board of Directors as well as the Advisory Board.


Sharon is the author of a number of books including the best selling titles “Another Chance: Hope and Health for the Alcoholic Family” and “Learning to Love Yourself”. She was the founding Chairmen of the Board of NACoA and also the founder of the highly recognized company, ONSITE, located in Tennessee. Today, she considers herself retired from the addiction field, while still facilitating groups for women that focus on issues of balance of mind, body and spirit... plus other volunteer activities. Her website which has her connection to her newsletter is www.sharonwcruse.com


Vice President for Development for Aspire Behavioral Health, a national company that creates and operates Geriatric Acute Care Psychiatric Hospitals, he recently rejoined the NACoA Board of Directors. Previously he worked for the White House as the Assistant Deputy Director for Drug Prevention, later becoming the lead consultant on substance abuse for the Child Welfare League of America. He built a residential community for 100 recovering addicts, Gateway Community Services, in Jacksonville, Florida.


Herbert L. Gravitz (1942-2015) was a licensed psychologist who specialized in the diagnosis and treatment of the effects of illness, addiction, and other trauma on the individual, the family and society. He focused on the impact of alcoholism, post traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, major depression and schizophrenia on every member of the family. While serving on the NACoA board, he lectured throughout the country, consulted on the movie “Shattered Spirits,” and wrote articles as well as a NACoA handbook on children of alcoholics. His seminal self-help book, co-written with Julie Bowden in 1987, “Recovery: A Guide for Adult Children of Alcoholics” was called a “classic” by Publisher’s Weekly.


“Actor” is her newest job, as she consulted and appears in a movie about family treatment called “Intervention.” She created and helped to facilitate a program called InnerPath at Cottonwood de Tucson, which offers intensive five day workshops for men and women dealing with relationship and family issues. For the last 15 years she has worked on London for Spring Workshops Ltd. for adults in recovery from trauma, addiction, and relationship problems.


Award-winning outpatient psychotherapist, cognitive behavioral therapist, private practice social worker and university faculty member Tarpley Long specializes in treating adult children of alcoholics and addicted men and women. Many of her clients have been sober for several years and wish to work on establishing healthy relationships or come to grips with a painful past such as childhood physical or sexual abuse or other ACOA issues. Her research includes over 50 articles and conference papers on Children of Alcoholics and Adult Children of Alcoholics and led to her election to the Cosmos Club of Washington in the category of Meritorious Original Work in Addiction Medicine. She was named in Washingtonian Magazine's Top 100 Psychotherapists and is a member of the American Psychoanalytic Association, the Washington Center for Psychoanalysis and the National Association of Social Workers. Her clients benefit from her more than thirty five years of experience in the field of addictions and mental health. Learn more on her website www.tarpleylong.com.


She continues as Executive Director of Student Assistance Services Corp. in Tarrytown, NY, which provides a full range of substance abuse prevention services including education, referral, consultation, counseling, and training. She has published several articles in professional journals, appeared on a number of television shows, and has been interviewed in popular magazines. She was the recipient of the NYS Association of Prevention Professionals Prevention Professional of the year for 1999. Ellen served on the expert panel that created NACoA’s Core Competencies for Social Workers last year. http://www.sascorp.org


Patricia O’Gorman, PhD, is a psychologist and resiliency coach, and an international speaker known for her warm and funny presentations. She has worked extensively with women and children of alcoholics in private practice, with an emphasis on trauma. She previously directed a rape crises center as well as the Division of Prevention for the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. She founded the Department of Prevention and Education for the National Office of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), national office, worked extensively in senior management in child welfare, and is a cofounder of the National Association for Children of Alcoholics. She also serves on the Board of the NYS Coalition Against Sexual Assault. The Girly Thought 10 Day Detox Plan: The Resilient Woman’s Guide to saying NO to Negative Self-Talk and YES to Personal Power is her ninth book; others include The Resilient Woman: Mastering the 7 Steps to Personal Power, Healing Trauma Through Self-Parenting, The Lowdown on Families Who Get High, Dancing Backwards in High Heels, and 12 Steps To Self-Parenting. patriciaogorman.com Blog: thepowerfulwoman.net.


Bob Subby, M.A., is a Licensed Psychologist and President of Human Concerns Diversified and Family Systems Center located in Minneapolis Minnesota. For the past forty years Bob has maintained an active schedule of counseling, teaching, and corporate consulting. The signature of his work as a therapist, author, and consultant continues to be centered on the dynamics of Systems Theory, with particular emphasis on organizational rules and their affect on the system. Along the way Bob developed a deep interest in computer technology. Through his corporate consulting endeavors, he became a part of a young software and hardware company working on next generation operating systems. Bob remains focused and committed to his work, family, and friends. Of the many privileged opportunities in his life, Bob says, "Being a part of NACoA's early beginnings was, and remains to be, the highlight of my professional career.


Since 1974 Dr. Whitfield has specialized in individual and group psychotherapy, with special interests in addictions and trauma. He received the National Child Advocate Award (Believe the Children, Chicago) in 1997. He is Consultant and Research Collaborator at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and has served on the Faculty of the Rutgers Summer Institute of Alcohol & Drug Studies for 24 years. He was a co-author on 8 published articles within the ACE study (Adverse Childhood Experiences) from the CDC. His recent books include The Truth about Depression, The Truth about Mental Illness, Not Crazy: You May Not be Mentally Ill, and Wisdom to Know the Difference: Core Issues in Relationships, Recovery and Living. He lives and practices in Atlanta, Georgia.


Tim Allen’s career has come full circle from being a high school administrator, to a substance abuse and psychiatric hospital administrator, and back as executive director of the Carlston Family Foundation, a nonprofit committed to recognize and reward outstanding teachers in California public high schools. The Foundation selects five teachers annually who are each awarded $20,000, nominated by former students who believe their teachers had a significant personal and academic impact on their lives. As high school administrator, Tim created one of the first Student Assistance Programs in the United States, which became the model for over 200 high school substance abuse prevention, education and training programs throughout the United States. Tim is the co-author of Powerful Parents…Competent Kids and in his currently capacity is working closely with several California State University Schools of Education to impact teacher preparation programs and, most recently, is supervising secondary education student teachers.


Barbara Krovitz-Neren, has worked in the addiction field and been a youth and parenting advocate for over 30 years. She was co-founder and director of Children Are People Inc., where she created a support group model for elementary and middle school age youth at risk and for children of alcoholics. She trained individuals in school districts, community social service agencies, and parent groups in Minnesota, nationally, and internationally. As a pioneer in the prevention field, she has created programs that have impacted over 50,000 youth and families. She has developed a new program through her work with thousands of children, adolescents, young adults, and parents called “Foundational Parenting.” She has a Master’s degree in counseling, an undergraduate degree from the University of Minnesota, completed a two year program in alcoholism and chemical dependency, completed a one year program specializing in family system dynamics, and has studied Mindful Based Stress Reduction for adults and children. She has piloted her new innovative parenting program in Recovery High School for parents, sober living programs and has coached parents using this model. She is writing a book teaching parents how to rebuild their foundation using 5 Steps of Foundational Parenting. Her work on behalf of the children and families she has served has earned her outstanding recognition awards throughout the years. http://competentparents.com/


In the early 1980's Jael Greenleaf’s identified Adult Children of Alcoholics as a unique population with the landmark booklet “Co-alcoholic, para-alcoholic: Who's who and what's the difference? The Importance of Appropriate Terminology and Etiological Differentiation in ... From Families with Alcoholism Syndrome.” For the first time, this group was identified and characterized by the symptoms they share in common.