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Dialogue Between the National Association for Children of Alcoholics and the Journal of Social Work Practice in the Addictions: An Interview with Shelly A. Wiechelt

NCJ Number
Journal of Social Work Practice in the Addictions Volume: 7 Issue: 3 Dated: 2007 Pages: 99-107
Shelly A. Wiechelt; Lori K. Holleran
Date Published
9 pages
This transcript of an interview with Shelly A. Wiechelt, an Assistant Professor in the University of Maryland's School of Social Work, focuses on the work of the National Association for Children of Alcoholics (NACoA), which is a national nonprofit membership and affiliate organization committed to advocating for all children and families affected by alcoholism and other drug abuse.
As indicated in the interview, NACoA addresses the effects of parental alcohol and other drug addiction on children by raising public awareness; providing leadership in public policy at the Federal, State, and local levels; advocating for effective and accessible education and prevention services; and facilitating and advancing professional knowledge and understanding. NACoA operates under the theoretical perspective that substance use disorders develop along multiple and complex pathways that are influenced by genetic, biological, familial, psychological, and social-cultural factors. In response to a question about the most important issue for social workers to consider when working with or advocating for the children of substance abusers, Wiechelt indicates the importance of social workers assessing each child in order to determine if and what types of services and support are needed. Wiechelt advises that children of substance abusers can experience a variety of effects, or no effects at all, so the specific effects of parental substance abuse on particular children must be determined before appropriate services and support can be delivered. Wiechelt also describes two unique cases that illustrate some of the situations that children of alcoholics encounter. In addition, Wiechelt describes the Social Work Initiative launched by NACoA in 2005. This effort has the primary objectives of developing a set of core competencies for social workers in addressing the needs of children of alcoholics and the development of a curriculum module for social work educators to use in the classroom. 12 references