In her ground breaking 1983 best seller Dr. Janet Woititz outlines 13 of the most common characteristics of Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACoA’s). These traits develop as the result of growing up in a household characterized by alcoholism or addiction. The instability associated with having an alcoholic or addicted parent leaves ACoA’s with some of the following characteristics:
A tendency to seek approval and affirmation. Adult children of alcoholics have a strong desire to constantly seek the approval of other people. They crave attention and praise from others and are people pleasers.
Feel as if they are different from other people.
A tendency to overreact to changes over which they have no control.
A need to have control over their behavior and emotions. They also try to regulate the behavior and emotions of others. They fear being out of control and often experience a great deal of anxiety because of this.
Having to guess at what “normal” behavior is.
Have difficulty following a project through from beginning to end.
Lie when it would be just as easy to tell the truth.
Judge themselves without mercy.
Children who grow up in alcoholic homes tend to be very hard on themselves. They believe that they must try to be perfect and do things correctly at all times. With things don’t go as planned, they blame themselves. They judge themselves without mercy.
Find it difficult to have fun.
Tend to take themselves very seriously.
Have difficulty with intimate relationships.
Tend to be very responsible or very irresponsible.
Display extreme loyalty even when presented with evidence that the loyalty is undeserved.
Tendency to act impulsively.
If you or someone you know is struggling to cope with the effects of having grown up in a household characterized by alcoholism or addiction, help is available. Therapy can help you heal from the trauma of growing up with an alcoholic or addicted parent. You can become the healthy, happy, and whole person you are meant to be!