The Cost of Being Adult Children of Parents With an Alcohol Use Disorder
A child looks to his parents or caregivers for safety, security, and support during all developmental stages of his or her life. But what happens to a child when his or her parents are addicted to alcohol? According to The National Institute On Drug Abuse, “It’s estimated that 25 percent of youth under age 18 are exposed to family alcohol abuse or dependence.” Research shows that children in this toxic environment are more likely to develop depression, anxiety, and a variety of emotional problems throughout their life if not given the proper support and treatment.
Growing up in a home with a parent (or parents) dealing with an alcohol use disorder (AUD) often results in an environment filled with chaos, emotional/physical violence, instability, and unreliability. Unfortunately, without the right support or treatment, these children can grow up to be Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACoA) and suffer from significant emotional struggles. In a well-known book, “Adult Children of Alcoholics,” author Janet G. Woititz discusses how children of those with alcohol use disorders often develop similar emotional behaviors and personality traits including:
- Fear of abandonment and always seeking approval and affirmation.
- Difficulty finishing projects to completion.
- Guessing at what normal behavior is.
- Lying when it would be just as easy to tell the truth.
- Judging themselves, very low-self esteem.
- Being super responsible or super irresponsible.
- Trouble with intimate relationships.
- Overreacting to changes over which they have no control.
- Extremely loyal, even when loyalty is undeserved.
- Impulsive behavior, taking a course of action without giving serious consideration to healthier behaviors or possible consequences of their actions.
This is by no means a complete list, and also note that not everyone who is a child of an alcoholic will experience these issues. However, studies have shown that children have a higher chance of experiencing some of these traits later in life if not properly dealt with over time.
There Is Hope
Joining support groups like Al-Anon or Adult Children of Alcoholics can be a positive start in helping adults deal with issues experienced with a parent or caretaker with an AUD. Getting help from a trained therapist or psychologist with experience in alcohol addiction is also a valuable tool in resolving trauma experienced in childhood. Seeking professional counseling can help those experiencing emotional turmoil achieve greater awareness of how their childhood shaped who they are today and begin their path to healing.
Alcohol Use Disorder and Treatment
Being a child of a parent or caretaker with an AUD can lead to behavioral issues such as anxiety, fear, depression, and a profound sense of helplessness later in life. If these behaviors and traumas are not properly dealt with during adulthood, it can also lead to substance use and addiction. If you or someone you know is showing signs of alcohol addiction, the best way to help is professional alcohol treatment through a trusted inpatient alcohol rehab center. Take the first step toward recovery and contact Daylight Recovery Services at 1-833-2DAYLIGHT. With the help of addiction specialists, patients can return to normal lives equipped with trigger management techniques and trauma therapy that will ensure they are less likely to relapse in the future. Save a life and get help today.