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10 Common Characteristics of Children of Alcoholics
The Lasting Impact of Alcoholism on Children
Individuals who grew up with a parent who misused alcohol are familiar with everyday feeling unpredictable. Inconsistency, unreliability, arguments, and chaos are common in homes where one or both parents have an alcohol addiction. Children of alcoholics often do not have their emotional needs met, leading to specific difficulties as adults. Children of alcoholics also often lack guidance and positive examples of building healthy relationships or taking care of themselves.
The effects of growing up in an alcoholic home can lead well into adulthood. Many adult children of alcoholics even turn to drugs or alcohol themselves in order to cope with the residual feelings. As an adult, it’s vital to recognize struggles caused by events experienced in childhood and work through these issues, so they no longer dominate everyday life.
Adults who came from alcoholic households tend to have similar characteristics, which can also be seen in people who grew up in families with other compulsive behaviors, such as gambling, drug abuse, or overeating. Children often grow up without the development of good coping skills or emotional regulation and tend to be impulsive and lack decision-making skills. There are also impacts on relationships, self-esteem, and overall personality. These are some of the most common characteristics of children of alcoholics:
Often, adult children of alcoholics do not know a balanced response to a given situation and often guess what the appropriate way to respond might be. They feel different from others and believe they cannot function with other people, which makes it difficult to maintain positive relationships.
2. Difficulty in Romantic Relationships
Because of their difficulty engaging with others positively, romantic relationships are greatly affected. They often stay in damaging relationships too long and experience extreme ups and downs in those relationships.
3. Impulsive Behavior
Many adult children of alcoholics act and respond impulsively without considering the consequences. This means they also spend a lot of time attempting to fix the problems resulting from impulsive behavior.
4. Low Self-Esteem
Lack of love or attention as children leads to approval-seeking behavior as adults. It can also lead to believing deep down they are not deserving of love, which causes low self-esteem.
5. Victim Perspective
Adult children of alcoholics have a hard time seeing the role their choices have played in the consequences of their lives and relationships. They have difficulty acknowledging their mistakes and often repeat them.
6. Judgmental Behavior
They are heavily judgmental not only of people around them but also of themselves.
7. Overactive to Change
Adult children of alcoholics are often unable to process the potential positive sides of unsolicited change. Change is almost always received negatively. Their response is often an extreme overreaction that is emotional.
8. Lack of Trust in Others or Relationships
Children of alcoholics tend to deal with inconsistent and unreliable parents, which can cause them to grow up feeling other relationships will be the same. They tend not to ask for help from others because they do not trust they can count on others and feel as if they are alone in the world.
9. Lying When the Truth Would Not Be Problematic
Also, due to being unfamiliar with a socially acceptable response to a given situation, they tend to lie, exaggerate, or omit facts in a situation that would otherwise have been perfectly acceptable.
10. Substance Abuse
Even though they have firsthand experience of addiction’s adverse side effects, they may still develop a substance abuse disorder themselves. This can be due to a genetic predisposition to addiction or because they lack positive coping mechanisms for managing stress or negative emotions.
While these characteristics seem negative, it’s important to note these are not ingrained in someone’s personality, nor do they make someone a bad person. These characteristics are the natural result of trauma experienced, and with proper therapy and self-drive to change, these traumas can be healed and put in the past. Several positive traits are seen in children of alcoholics, such as resiliency, maturity, empathy, responsibility, and being driven. Many support groups and mental health therapists can help people learn to cope with conflict in new and constructive ways.
Treatment for Alcoholism
If you or someone you know struggles with alcoholism or addiction, the recovery team at JC’s Recovery Center is here to help. Our holistic, individualized, and faith-based addiction program can get you back to a healthy life. Please call us today at (844) 524-6873 to contact our compassionate and knowledgeable staff to help you get you on your new road to recovery.