Personal Assistance Service (PAS) | 2200 West Main Street | Erwin Square Tower | 4th Floor, Suite 400A | Durham, NC 27705 | 919-416-1PAS (919-416-1727)

Adult Children of Alcoholics

Alcoholism affects the entire family. It is a progressive disease often characterized by broken promises, lies, secrets, silence and hidden feelings. According to the Children of Alcoholics Foundation, 1 out of every 8 Americans is raised in an alcoholic household. A child raised in an alcoholic family system learns to relate to the world and the people in it in ways that are not necessarily healthy or adaptive.

"Adult Children of Alcoholics" refers to individuals who were adversely impacted by familial alcoholism. They can generally be categorized as individuals who, as children, coped with a home filled with confusion, unclear communication, chaos, inconsistencies, anxiety, embarrassment, and pain.

Common Traits and Behaviors of ACOAs

  • Aren't sure what "normal" is
  • Tend to feel uneasy around authority figures
  • Tend to be people pleasers
  • Tend to feel uneasy when life is calm
  • Have difficulty in following through on projects
  • Lie when it would be just as easy to tell the truth
  • Judge themselves harshly
  • Have a hard time having fun
  • Look for immediate gratification
  • Take themselves very seriously
  • Overreact to changes over which they have no control
  • Feel they are different from others
  • Constantly seek approval and affirmation
  • Tend to be either very responsible or very irresponsible
  • Are extremely loyal, even when it is apparent that loyalty is undeserved
  • Tend to be impulsive in making decisions

Not all of these characteristics apply to every ACOA.

What to Do?

Personal reflection my help you understand the impact of having grown up in an alcoholic environment on your adult life (and current family). Self-help books may educate you and support you sufficiently. Or, you may contact PAS (919-416-1727) for a confidential appointment with a counselor to discuss other options such as individual or couples/family counseling. You may benefit from self help groups such as Al-Anon. Your PAS counselor can also help you locate these groups in your area.