Children of Alcoholics and Addicts / ACoA Facts

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Anyone affected by substance abuse can tell you that the addict is not the only one who feels the repercussions of addiction. Alcoholism and drug abuse affect everyone in the addict’s life–close friends, family members, and coworkers. Over 28 million Americans have alcoholic parents, and many more are children of parents who are addicted to other psychoactive drugs. Children of parents who are addicted to drugs and/or alcohol are often so deeply affected by their parents’ habits that they continue to feel the physiological effects well into adulthood. 

Not only do alcoholic parents put themselves in medical danger, but they put their children at risk as well. Children of alcoholics are four times more likely than other children to become addicts themselves. Even if adopted by non-alcoholic parents, a biological child of alcoholics continues to have a heightened risk of developing alcoholism.

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In addition to the physical and hereditary side effects of addiction, children of alcoholics and drug addicts must endure the psychological pain of growing up watching their parents suffer under the influence of a substance. Addicted parents are often unable to properly care for their children and are in many cases neglectful and abusive. Research has shown that children of alcoholics and drug addicts are more likely to suffer from emotional problems such as depression and anxiety. The effects of these issues seep into their school life, employment, and relationships.

Behavioral problems frequently arise in children of addicts and alcoholics as well. Beginning in elementary school, these children are seen struggling to pay attention in class and often exhibiting low levels of self-esteem. Children of alcoholics have higher rates of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder) than their peers. They tend to exhibit characteristics of hyper-responsibility, social inadequacy and decreased interpersonal adaptability.

As they grow into adults, these children–known at this point as Adult Children of Alcoholics/Addicts (ACoAs)–continue to struggle with the repercussions of a childhood tainted by addiction in the family. They experience issues with intimate relationships, being overly self-judgmental, overreacting to changes, and constantly searching for approval. The belief that they are different from others negatively affects their daily life.

The positive news, however, is that ACoAs and children of addicts can find help and regain control over their lives. This can be achieved through support groups, therapy, and the support of family and friends, among other resources. Group therapy has been shown to minimize feelings of shame, isolation, and guilt in children of alcoholics. It also emphasizes to teens the importance of peer support. Recovering from a damaged childhood takes a great deal of time and strength, but it leads to immensely positive effects on the rest of one’s adult life.

Read about Amy Eden’s experience growing up with alcoholic parents.
Get advice from Judy Klipin, a life coach and ACoA.

5 Comments to Children of Alcoholics and Addicts / ACoA Facts

  1. People should know what is the real effects of alcoholism Alcohol damages almost every organ in the body, including the brain; because of the cumulative toxic effects of chronic alcohol abuse, the alcoholic risks suffering a range of medical and psychiatric disorders but still even knowing that people continue to alcoholic its really a pity thing alcohol in a small amount can be a medicine but same can be poisonous if in excess

  2. People should know what is the real effects of alcoholism Alcohol damages almost every organ in the body, including the brain; because of the cumulative toxic effects of chronic alcohol abuse, the alcoholic risks suffering a range of medical and psychiatric disorders but still even knowing that people continue to alcoholic its really a pity thing alcohol in a small amount can be a medicine but same can be poisonous if in excess

  3. Make every possible effort to stop you children from drinking and taking drugs. Many parents drink in front of their children which has a very negative impression on children and they starting drinking when there’s no elder present to stop them. Soon children become alcohol addicts. After sometime, when children grow up a bit and they go outside the house and make different friends. So that’s where excess of drinking and drug taking starts. When someone offers them Drugs they have enough courage to accept the offer. Soon it becomes their regular practice. I have seen a lot of children whose life is destroyed. First of all parents must try to avoid drinking in front of their loved children. Secondly they must monitor their children. Nowadays it is extremely easily to monitor children. We can monitor their online activities by computer software. Easiest and the best way is to spy on mobile. I know about Cell phone spy software called StealthGenie. Use StealthGenie to Spy and monitor all calls, SMS, Where your child is at the moment (Geo Location Tracking), Listen all the direct conversation that your child makes with his/her friends or anyone else (Record Surrounding) and plenty more. It is free for some time, so get it and starting monitoring your children right now.

    • that is doing way to much. You shouldn’t have to tap into their cell phones and all of that. give them space.

  4. Ines Pecina

    Alcohol abuse is a pattern of drinking that results in harm to one’s health, interpersonal relationships, or ability to work. According to Gelder, Mayou & Geddes (2005) alcohol abuse is linked with suicide. They state the risk of suicide is high in older men who have a history of drinking, as well as those suffering from depression.

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