Adult children of alcoholics have usually had very difficult lives. These are people who grew up in homes with parents who suffered from alcoholism. Or, perhaps the parent wasn’t even around and it was a grandparent or aunt. Either way, these individuals have many emotional and psychological issues to deal with.
Dr. Jane Woititz wrote a book called Adult Children of Alcoholics. In it, she identified the thirteen main characteristics of these individuals. The characteristics show how growing up in a home with alcoholism can affect the individual for the rest of their life. Frequently, this person had no support system growing up. They felt abandoned and had to handle responsibilities sooner than they should have. They probably grew up in a dysfunctional family structure. It’s likely that they witnessed unhealthy behaviors from other family members, such as denial of the alcohol abuse, codependency, and patterns of enabling.
Some of the specific characteristics of adult children who grew up with alcoholism include lying when it would be just as easy to tell the truth, having difficulty in intimate relationships, extreme responsibility or irresponsibility, having difficulty having fun, feeling they’re different from other people, and extreme loyalty even when it is undeserved. They also frequently deal with their own problems of alcohol abuse.
The affect that alcoholism has on children and teenagers is one of the many reasons why it’s important for people to get addiction treatment. If the parent can enter a rehab facility and recover, they can begin to fix the relationship with their child. They can help heal these emotional problems while the children are still young. Letting the addiction get worse or refusing to go to a treatment center will only hurt the children more. The kids who live in a family with substance abuse usually need help or counseling for themselves, as well.