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What It’s Like to Be an Adult Child of an Alcoholic

Typical view of a child of an alcoholic

Alcoholism often reaches far beyond the people struggling with it, affecting everyone around them—including adult children of alcoholics (ACA). From emotional repression to problems with intimacy, alcoholism can affect an adult child of an alcoholic for years to come. Thus, helping an alcoholic must include helping their family members.

Alcoholic treatment options must aid individuals affected by alcoholism from an early age. An excellent alcohol addiction treatment program helps patients overcome addiction and helps their family members move forward by developing coping tools and receiving support from others who have undergone a similar experience. Call 888.341.3607 to speak with someone from Ashwood Recovery about professional help for you and your family.

Characteristics of an Adult Child of an Alcoholic

Everyone is unique and responds differently to the trauma of having an alcoholic as a parent. However, several recurrent characteristics are worth discussing—if only to help define a shared experience for adult children of alcoholics. Growing up with an alcoholic as a parent may lead to some of the following characteristics and personality traits:

  • Avoidance – Many ACAs fear strong personalities, those in authority, or those easily angered. Because of this fear, they often try to avoid conflict at any cost, even if their interests and needs are unmet.
  • People pleasing – Children who grew up with an alcoholic parent learned to act a certain way to receive attention. As adults, they may continue to seek approval for unhealthy habits. This can often lead to losing self-identity.
  • Lowered self-esteem – No matter what they accomplish or do, individuals who see a parent or caretaker struggle with alcoholism are most commonly weighed down with a lack of self-respect and an unhealthy level of self-criticism. This can often interact the way that they interact with friends, family, and loved ones.
  • Issues in intimacy – ACAs sometimes cannot maintain a healthy, intimate relationship. Intimacy translates into a loss of control, and the inability to express emotions and needs can lead to frustrations in the relationship. This can often lead to repeated, unhealthy patterns in relationships.
  • Emotional experiences – ACAs often cannot fully experience their emotions since they have learned to bury these emotions from an early age. Instead of expressing anger or frustration, they often internalize these negative emotions. ACAs sometimes cannot enjoy a fun, joyful experience because of the connotation of what these experiences mean for them.

These characteristics of ACAs do not necessarily statistically represent the majority and are not meant to be prescriptive of what you are or are not to experience. Instead, consider this a description of issues that many other ACAs face.

Tools and Support for Coping as an ACA

Adult children who grew up in a dysfunctional setting due to alcoholism are heavily affected by this experience later in life. Thankfully, these effects do not have to be permanent. Many resources are available for adult children of alcoholics to learn the tools and receive the confirmation needed to move forward. For example, a 12-step program with group meetings refocuses individuals on solving their alcoholism-related problems and equips them with tools to enact change in their daily lives. Instead of focusing on past experiences and self-victimization, ACA support groups focus on how to live a better life.

If you struggle with alcoholism, we highly recommend participating in alcoholic treatment options. However, if you also experienced a childhood filled with alcoholism, you may consider attending an ACA support group in Idaho in conjunction with alcoholic treatment. At Ashwood Recovery, we don’t only focus on helping alcoholic patients but also ACAs.

Find Help as an Adult Child of an Alcoholic in Idaho at Ashwood Recovery

Recovery as an adult child of an alcoholic requires breaking the cycle of alcoholism inherent in the disease since it is primarily considered a family disease. With a commitment to change, building self-confidence and coping tools, and a fair amount of frank conversations, counseling sessions, and alcohol addiction treatment, the effects of alcoholism on adult children and other family members can be reversed. If you still have a story to share or have questions about what it means to be an ACA, don’t hesitate to contact Ashwood Recovery today at 888.341.3607.