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Adult Children of Alcoholics are people who have grown up in a household where one or both parents had problems with alcohol. Such adult children tend to have higher rates of relationship problems, depression anxiety and substance abuse.

Living with an alcoholic as a child may mean different things. For many, they may have endured daily trauma due to frequent arguments between the parents. For others, Adult Children of Alcoholics or ACOA’s often try to understand the plight of the non-alcoholic parent and become rescuers or saviors for the parent they view as victimized. There may be verbal abuse and even physical violence in such households, which further complicates the situation.  ACOA’s often feel that they are walking on eggshells because their lives are unpredictable and they don’t know what’s going to happen next.  As you can see, living in fear, feeling helpless and victimized are associated with growing up with an alcoholic adult.

Some of these Adult Children of Alcoholics may either experience or witness physical abuse of horrifying and terrifying magnitudes. Such traumas are not only unhealthy and interfere with the positive growth of the child, but create internal and interpersonal problems. Many of these children feel that they are to blame for the problems, are afraid of expressing themselves and try to fade into the woodwork or disappear to try and prevent their parent from acting out. These Adult Children of Alcoholics often ‘grow up too fast’ in an attempt to cope with the chaos and fear in their lives and as adults feel robbed of their childhood.   Living with an alcoholic can have negative effects on your self image and self esteem.

Feelings of guilt, low self esteem, and needing to please others are a few of the problems Adult Children of Alcoholics or ACOA’s may face as adults.  Feelings of mistrust towards others and sometimes even isolation may make social relationships, personal relations, academics and jobs difficult. Such adult children are often known to grow up as ‘perfectionists’ in their efforts to win the approval from others. A series of failed relationships is not uncommon.  Adult Children of Alcoholics frequently have unrealistic expectations of themselves and the people who they come in contact with.  As a result, they rarely feel fulfilled and find themselves repeatedly disappointed. When they feel they have failed at pleasing everyone, they may become depressed and may even start consuming alcohol themselves.

ACOA’s have grown up in an alcoholic household have never had a chance to really live in a ‘normal’ household. They are often confronted with negativity, abuse and violence and have never learned what is functional or healthy in normal relationships.  As adults, these individuals frequently experience problems with trust and intimacy.  They also tend to be pleasers, but feel  insecure, tense and unhappy.  They may also be moody and irritable.  Adult Children of Alcoholics are at a higher risk for depression and anxiety than others.

If you find yourself stuck in recurring problems as a result of your childhood, you should consider psychotherapy.  If psychotherapy has not worked, or if you are in crisis, a higher dose of treatment may be necessary. Our treatment center provides services to those who need more treatment than one hour a week, but less than 24 hour care, by providing three hours of treatment per day, three to five days per week, in an intensive outpatient setting.  Because our treatment center relies on evidence based practices, our Intensive Outpatient Program shares many common methods with other successful treatment methods.  The foundation of our treatment program for relies on the principles of the stages of change, cognitive behavioral therapy, solution focused treatment, skills training and identifying repetitive dysfunctional behavioral relationship patterns to promote recovery from depression and other mental health disorders.  In fact, our Intensive Outpatient Program in Memphis, TN that has been proven to be effective in the treatment of these disorders in six peer reviewed treatment outcome studies. If you or a loved one is showing signs of depression or anxiety, they should be assessed by a trained mental health professional who can help design a treatment plan that can result in recovery.  Treatment for depression and anxiety can be highly successful.  Call us at 901-682-6136 to schedule an appointment.