Trauma Symptoms of Adult Children of Alcoholics

Finally, we assessed the prevalence of alcoholism and depression while we controlled simultaneously for the ACE score and for a history of parental alcohol abuse. However, even when studies control for demographic differences, family discord, and parental pathology, the specific relationship between childhood abuse and the development of substance use disorders holds true. Childhood victimization may lead to low self-esteem and the subsequent use of alcohol to deal with negative cognitions.

Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACoA) − Traits and Recovery Trauma

So, in response to the question, „What does it mean to be an adult child of an alcoholic?” it means a person was given an emotional minefield to navigate in their childhood, and they learned some survival techniques that need to be unlearned as an adult. The ACA has group meetings (based on the 12-step principles of “Alcoholics Anonymous”) that are specifically designed to help adult children overcome the lasting damage of parental drinking. It’s estimated that about 1 in 10 children (7.5 million) have lived with at least one parent with alcohol use disorder, based on a 2017 report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Because alcohol use is normalized in families with alcoholism, children can often struggle to distinguish between good role models and bad ones.

Ways growing up with an alcoholic parent can affect you as an adult:

  • Studies have shown that 61% of adults have at least 1 ACE, and 1 out of 6 has at least 4.
  • However, the way you speak and interact with children also may lessen the impact of a parent with a SUD.
  • However, even when studies control for demographic differences, family discord, and parental pathology, the specific relationship between childhood abuse and the development of substance use disorders holds true.

Even when a person grows up to become an adult child of an alcoholic, the meetings don’t necessarily focus on what it was like for a child to grow up alongside addiction and within a dysfunctional family. These effects can last long into adulthood and make it difficult for adult children to have healthy relationships. Studies show that children affected by parental drinking may develop serious problems in adulthood. One of the most common issues reported was a lack of trust in adults (more than 1 in 5).

  • Children of alcoholics may struggle with trust, keeping friendships, communication and conflict resolution skills in their personal and professional relationships.
  • Given the high co-occurrence of alcohol and illicit drug use, potential toxic interactions between the prescribed medication and other substances of abuse must also be addressed.
  • There are steps you can take as an adult to address the lasting impact your parent’s alcohol use left on you.
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  • A 2012 study that considered 359 adult children of parents with AUD found that they tended to fall within five distinct personality subtypes.
  • An intense need for control can lead to problems with forming and maintaining intimate relationships.
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The Trauma of Children of People with Addiction

alcoholic parent trauma

You can always encourage them to get their own help, but you don’t need to feel shame for taking care of your own mental and physical needs. Speaking to another person about an already complex topic can feel scary, especially if your parent has asked you to keep things under wraps. However, finding a safe adult to confide in can make a difference, and provide the support that both you and your parent could benefit from. For clinicians, researchers suggested that while medical intervention is not common, incorporating practices like screen and psychosocial treatments could assist adults and lower the rates of AUD. Studies suggest that both mental illness and trauma are risk factors for AUD and SUD.

  • So consider pointing them to information on topics such as detox, outpatient, inpatient, aftercare, the admissions process, types of therapies, family treatment, and more.
  • Here’s a look at the psychological, emotional, interpersonal, and behavioral effects of being raised by parents who are struggling with alcohol use.
  • There is a marked prevalence of mental health issues among adult children of alcoholics who present higher rates of anxiety and depression, substance abuse disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  • Seeking support from others who’ve been in your shoes is extremely helpful during the healing process.
  • As a result, you neglect your own needs,get into dysfunctional relationships, and allow others to take advantage of your kindness.
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alcoholic parent trauma

Growing up with a parent who has an alcohol use disorder can change how an adult child interacts with others. It can cause problems in their relationships with friends, family members, and romantic partners. As a result of trust issues or the lack of self-esteem, adult children of parents with AUD often struggle with romantic relationships or avoid getting close to others. Children of alcoholics (COAs) experience numerous psychosocial challenges from infancy to adulthood. Research has shown the deep psychological impression of parental alcohol use over COAs.

  • When this happens, the child doesn’t just experience the trauma of knowing that their parent isn’t able to take care of them in the way a parent should.
  • If you’re unsure where to start, you can check out Psych Central’s hub on finding mental health support.
  • While there is evidence of genetic predisposition to alcohol abuse, children of alcoholics can thrive with support and intervention.

However, to assess this potential effect, we repeated our analyses after excluding all respondents with missing information on any of the adverse childhood experiences. The results of this analysis did not differ substantially from the results we report here. Once these two aspects of self—the inner parent and child—begin to work together, a person can discover a new wholeness within.

A Vision of Hope and a New Life Direction for an ACoA

Aron Janssen, MD is board certified in child, adolescent, and adult psychiatry and is the vice chair of child and adolescent psychiatry Northwestern University. Our team is available to guide you through the steps of assessing your insurance coverage for addiction treatment. AddictionResource aims to present the most accurate, trustworthy, and up-to-date medical content to our readers.

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