What Happens to Children of Alcoholics?

Alcoholism is a disorder that can affect others as much as the addicted person.

image of depressed young adolescentIn fact, family members can suffer problems just like their addicted loved ones.

This holds especially true for the children of alcoholics. A parent’s drinking problem may not have started until they were an adult, but children of alcoholic parents spend their developmental years in turmoil. Studies have shown that negative experiences during these critical early stages have long term impacts as such children mature.

In fact, Dr. Janet G. Woititz pinpointed 13 unique characteristics of children who had alcoholic parents in her seminal work, Adult Children of Alcoholics. In the 1983 New York Times best-selling book, “Dr. Jan” notes that ACoAs have trouble distinguishing what constitutes normal behavior, since they may not have grown up around it. They may be prone to lying, have trouble finishing things they start, and can be overly hard on themselves. Other common traits she discovered include difficulty enjoying activities or forming relationships, feeling the need to seek constant approval, and behaving impulsively at times.

It isn’t hard to see how each of these issues can be traced back to unpleasant childhood circumstances.

Problems that kids face at home when a parent struggles with Alcohol Use Disorder can range from feelings of fear or instability, financial hardships, neglect, lack of affection, verbal or physical abuse, or witnessing the abuse of another parent or sibling. Clearly these aren’t the characteristics of an ideal childhood environment.

image of a unhappy young manAs noted by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, “alcohol is involved in at least 50 percent of homicides and assaults.” Drinking lowers inhibitions, impairs judgment, and can directly contribute to the escalation of arguments into violence. The link between domestic violence and alcoholism has become so well-researched because of the ongoing prevalence of occurrences. The long-term impacts on children, though, often went unrecognized.

It wasn’t until the 1970s that self-help groups developed the notion of the “adult child” — a term they used to describe a person who grew up living with an alcoholic parent. Such individuals may suppress many of their traumatic childhood memories for years before they finally emerge as symptoms of PTSD in adulthood. Before the works of Dr. Woititz, these groups were laying the foundations for what would later become the Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA) World Service Organization.

One of ACA’s early published writings was “Tony A’s” 1978 “Laundry List.” Featuring many of the same ideas as those later found in Dr. Woititz’s book, Tony’s list bore additional traits such as a tendency towards isolation, low self-esteem, fear of authority figures, a sense of victimhood, and addiction to excitement (though this can be related to impulsive behavior). Many of these notions were inspired by Tony’s own story and his experiences with Alcoholics Anonymous.

Over the years, ACA has added a supplemental “Other Laundry List” as well as “Flip Sides” which serve as suggestions to address problems encountered by ACoAs. For instance, where the Laundry List proclaims “We became approval seekers and lost our identity in the process,” the Flip Side offers an empowering rebuttal: “We do not depend on others to tell us who we are.”

Perhaps the most powerful Flip Side proclamation is the final one: “We stop denying and do something about our post-traumatic dependency on substances, people, places and things to distort and avoid reality.” This final step suggests that children of alcoholics must be brave enough to “do something” to get help, to finally lay to rest the ghosts of the past. The best way to get help is by connecting with medical professionals qualified to diagnose and treat such serious issues the right way, versus continuing to struggle alone.

Gulf Breeze Recovery offers a nurturing environment in a beautiful setting where each guest is treated with dignity and respect.

Gulf Breeze Recovery strives to offer the best and most comprehensive alcohol and substance abuse treatment options in the country, with plans of treatment tailored to the needs of your loved one.

image of waterfront pool area, pool, and private fishing pier at Gulf Breeze Recovery's non-12 step alcohol treatment center in FloridaIf you or someone you care about, has an ongoing history of alcohol or substance use and/or relapse, contact Gulf Breeze Recovery or call: (855) 433-4480 to speak to an addiction expert to learn more about their residential program, out-patient program, and intensive out-patient program, and which of these can best fit your individual needs.  These programs have helped many people overcome their addiction and embrace their new happy, healthy, substance-free lifestyle.

We help people not just to survive, but to THRIVE!

Alcoholism is a disorder that can affect others as much as the addicted person.

image of depressed young adolescentIn fact, family members can suffer problems just like their addicted loved ones.

This holds especially true for the children of alcoholics. A parent’s drinking problem may not have started until they were an adult, but children of alcoholic parents spend their developmental years in turmoil. Studies have shown that negative experiences during these critical early stages have long term impacts as such children mature.

In fact, Dr. Janet G. Woititz pinpointed 13 unique characteristics of children who had alcoholic parents in her seminal work, Adult Children of Alcoholics. In the 1983 New York Times best-selling book, “Dr. Jan” notes that ACoAs have trouble distinguishing what constitutes normal behavior, since they may not have grown up around it. They may be prone to lying, have trouble finishing things they start, and can be overly hard on themselves. Other common traits she discovered include difficulty enjoying activities or forming relationships, feeling the need to seek constant approval, and behaving impulsively at times.

It isn’t hard to see how each of these issues can be traced back to unpleasant childhood circumstances.

Problems that kids face at home when a parent struggles with Alcohol Use Disorder can range from feelings of fear or instability, financial hardships, neglect, lack of affection, verbal or physical abuse, or witnessing the abuse of another parent or sibling. Clearly these aren’t the characteristics of an ideal childhood environment.

image of a unhappy young manAs noted by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, “alcohol is involved in at least 50 percent of homicides and assaults.” Drinking lowers inhibitions, impairs judgment, and can directly contribute to the escalation of arguments into violence. The link between domestic violence and alcoholism has become so well-researched because of the ongoing prevalence of occurrences. The long-term impacts on children, though, often went unrecognized.

It wasn’t until the 1970s that self-help groups developed the notion of the “adult child” — a term they used to describe a person who grew up living with an alcoholic parent. Such individuals may suppress many of their traumatic childhood memories for years before they finally emerge as symptoms of PTSD in adulthood. Before the works of Dr. Woititz, these groups were laying the foundations for what would later become the Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA) World Service Organization.

One of ACA’s early published writings was “Tony A’s” 1978 “Laundry List.” Featuring many of the same ideas as those later found in Dr. Woititz’s book, Tony’s list bore additional traits such as a tendency towards isolation, low self-esteem, fear of authority figures, a sense of victimhood, and addiction to excitement (though this can be related to impulsive behavior). Many of these notions were inspired by Tony’s own story and his experiences with Alcoholics Anonymous.

Over the years, ACA has added a supplemental “Other Laundry List” as well as “Flip Sides” which serve as suggestions to address problems encountered by ACoAs. For instance, where the Laundry List proclaims “We became approval seekers and lost our identity in the process,” the Flip Side offers an empowering rebuttal: “We do not depend on others to tell us who we are.”

Perhaps the most powerful Flip Side proclamation is the final one: “We stop denying and do something about our post-traumatic dependency on substances, people, places and things to distort and avoid reality.” This final step suggests that children of alcoholics must be brave enough to “do something” to get help, to finally lay to rest the ghosts of the past. The best way to get help is by connecting with medical professionals qualified to diagnose and treat such serious issues the right way, versus continuing to struggle alone.

Gulf Breeze Recovery offers a nurturing environment in a beautiful setting where each guest is treated with dignity and respect.

Gulf Breeze Recovery strives to offer the best and most comprehensive alcohol and substance abuse treatment options in the country, with plans of treatment tailored to the needs of your loved one.

image of waterfront pool area, pool, and private fishing pier at Gulf Breeze Recovery's non-12 step alcohol treatment center in FloridaIf you or someone you care about, has an ongoing history of alcohol or substance use and/or relapse, contact Gulf Breeze Recovery or call: (855) 433-4480 to speak to an addiction expert to learn more about their residential program, out-patient program, and intensive out-patient program, and which of these can best fit your individual needs.  These programs have helped many people overcome their addiction and embrace their new happy, healthy, substance-free lifestyle.

We help people not just to survive, but to THRIVE!

The front of Gulf Breeze Recovery a non 12 step holistic drug and alcohol rehab specializing in helping guests overcome chronic relapse

About Gulf Breeze Recovery:

Gulf Breeze Recovery, unlike other treatment centers in Florida, is a non 12 step holistic drug and alcohol rehab that is changing the future of addiction treatment with their THRIVE® (Total Health Recovery) program focused on overcoming chronic relapse.
Gulf Breeze Recovery’s THRIVE® program is a non 12-step approach designed for those who are looking for a drug and alcohol treatment program to produce a different and positive result.
This non-12 step program allows you to drive beyond your addictions and promotes a new outlook on life.
We are licensed by the Florida Department of Children and Families, and our last audit scored 99.7! Also, we are gold certified by the Joint Commission.

Program logo: Gulf Breeze Recovery offers a true non-12-Step, holistic drug treatment program with licensed mental health professionals who have small caseloads so that they can offer individualized and intensive care and it's called THRIVE®

End Chronic Relapse and Start a New Life!

At Gulf Breeze Recovery we don’t want you to have just a great recovery, we want you to have a great life!

Contact Us, or Call: (855) 433-4480

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