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The purpose of this qualitative study was to examine how kin and fictive kinship relationships help to ameliorate or buffer responses to parental alcoholism and the breakdown in parenting. This qualitative study investigated coping responses developed by college students, who selfidentified as adult children of alcoholics (ACOAs) who lived with an alcoholic parent or caregiver. In-depth interviews and follow-up participant checks were used. A descriptive model was developed describing conditions that affected the development of positive self-esteem, the phenomena that arose from those conditions, the context that influenced strategy development, the intervening conditions that influenced strategy development, and the consequences of those strategies. Subcategories of each component of the descriptive model are identified and illustrated by narrative data in relation to the ACOAs’ psychological well-being. Implications for research, policy, and practice are discussed.

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