It’s no secret that alcoholism affects the people in an alcoholic’s life, such as their children. The impact that an alcoholic home has on someone doesn’t just go away when they grow into their new adult life. Rather, coming from an alcoholic family can take a toll on children that lasts well into their adulthood.
In 1978, Tony A. published what he called "The Laundry List," which is a list of characteristics that seem very familiar to anyone who grew up in a dysfunctional home. An adult child of an alcoholic parent, caregiver, or other family members may find that this list really resonates with them:
Personal experience growing up in an alcoholic home can also cause adult children of alcoholic parents to follow in their caregiver’s footsteps, all while denying the truth. As they do this, they may abandon those around them to protect themselves from abandonment—and isolate and dissociate to avoid being hurt. Instead, they may become “attracted to people [they] can manipulate and control in [their] important relationships,” according to Tony A.
“We refuse to admit we’ve been affected by family dysfunction or that there was dysfunction in the home or that we have internalized any of the family’s destructive attitudes and behaviors,” Tony A.’s “‘Other’ List” writes. “We act as if we are nothing like the dependent people who raised us.”
Rehab facilities are open and accepting new patients
Unfortunately, there are some common traits among adult children of alcoholics. In 1983, Janet Woititz created this list, “From Adult Children of Alcoholics (& Other Dysfunctional Families)” in her book, Adult Children of Alcoholics:
The Adult Children of Alcoholics World Service Organization (ACoAs) is an organization that offers advice and resources for anyone who grew up with alcoholics. It was founded in 1973 to provide a forum for people in similar situations and support their journeys.
ACA meetings and support groups are safe spaces available for adult children of alcoholics so that they know they’re not alone. The attendees of these meetings share stories of hope and inspiration, as well as personal experience with each other without judgement or criticism. These meetings can also help you find the resources you need to cope with your situation.
There are various types of meetings, including in-person face-to-face meetings, online meetings, telephone meetings, and audio/online meetings. There are also different meetings for women or men only, for teens, for the LGBTQ+ community, for young adults, for beginners, and for everyone together. All meetings are grounded in spiritual guidance and are not affiliated with any specific religion.
You can register online via the Meeting Registration Form.
ACA newcomers are always welcome. ACA offers newcomers a “Twelve Step, Twelve Tradition” support group that’s focused on understanding their behavioral patterns and attitudes. ACA newcomers are encouraged to regularly attend meetings to gain a better grasp on their mental health and learn how to take the steps they need to lead better and healthier lives.
Other support groups are available for you, as well. Aside from local support groups you may find on social media, Al-Anon Family Groups can also be very beneficial. Al-Anon touts itself as “a mutual support group of peers who share their experience in applying the Al-Anon principles to problems related to the effects of a problem drinker in their lives.”
You don’t have to overcome your addiction alone. Professional guidance and support is available. Begin a life of recovery by reaching out to a specialist today.
“Find an Al-Anon or Alateen Face-to-Face, Phone, or Online Meeting.” Al, 9 June 2020, al-anon.org/al-anon-meetings/.
“Information for Meetings and Groups.” Adult Children of Alcoholics & Dysfunctional Families, adultchildren.org/meeting-group/.
“Laundry List.” Adult Children of Alcoholics & Dysfunctional Families, adultchildren.org/literature/laundry-list/.
“Welcome to ACA.” Adult Children of Alcoholics & Dysfunctional Families, adultchildren.org/newcomer/.
“World Service Organization.” Adult Children of Alcoholics & Dysfunctional Families, adultchildren.org/.