children of alcoholics

Children who grow up in families with an alcoholic parent can suffer from behavioral and emotional issues due to the high level of dysfunction in the home. Effects of alcoholism are felt by many others in a sort of ripple effect starting with the individual who has the drinking problem. Communication can be stilted and problematic with increasing levels of dysfunction over time. Learn what to look for when identifying potential problems in oneself and the family in addition to treatment options available for individuals who grew up in an alcoholic home.


Characteristics of Abuse

Feelings of love and safety are associated with parents who raise children, but these can be corrupted by influences outside the child’s control. Fear, uncertainty, anxiety and even hatred may be a general feeling for children raised in a home where alcoholism is present. Outside, the family appears normal but inside the people who live in the house feel the changes which happen when family members struggle with sobriety.


Increased Risk

Adult children of alcoholics have increased risk of suffering from alcoholism. The chance of one of the children becoming an alcoholic themselves is three to four times higher compared with a child who did not have a parent who struggled with alcoholism. Many issues arise from these circumstances including unhealthy coping mechanisms and suppressed emotions. Adult children of alcoholic parents fall into two camps of beliefs surrounding the origins of alcoholism: genetics versus environment. Similar symptoms persist for children in both camps. Let’s review some of those traits.


Common Traits Among Children of Alcoholics

A similar set of traits seems to afflict adult children of alcoholic parents. Fear is the primary symptom which impacts intimate relationships, coping strategies and dealing with change effectively. Children whose parents were alcoholic also fear abandonment and making mistakes. As a result of the intense fear, the children also tend to have aggressive, manipulative or perfectionistic tendencies. A dysfunctional home focused on a lack of empathy and tolerance of abuse accompanies denial about what a ‘normal’ home is like. Alcoholism and abuse are also unfortunately correlated for children who grow up in this environment. .


Treatment for Alcoholism

While some children grow into well adjusted adults, others struggle to cope with the emotional issues and relationships become challenging. Many adult children of alcoholic parents benefit from seeking treatment and attending AA meetings while others have success attending twelve-step programs or other therapeutic settings. Therapists and counselors have grown in recognition of the need for services to this population to help cope with the aftermath of growing up with an alcoholic parent. Support and treatment is available for those ready to take the step towards recovery and healing.


If you are an adult child of a parent addicted to alcohol, Hired Power provides resources and services which can help you on the journey of recovery. Call 800-910-9299 for more information.