Call Us Now
10 Characteristics of Adult Children of Alcoholics: Effects of Dysfunctional Home

10 Characteristics of Adult Children of Alcoholics: The Effects of a Dysfunctional Home

Table of Contents

The term adult children of alcoholics is used to describe adults who grew up in an alcoholic family during their childhood. Psychologists and researchers have studied this occurrence and found that adult children of alcoholics tend to share common characteristics and personality traits due to the impact of being raised in alcoholic homes.

When it comes to substance abuse, the addict is not the only person who is affected. In fact, addiction is considered as a family disease because it also affects people who are close to the addict. Children who grow up with an alcoholic parent are often raised in an unpredictable, dysfunctional, and sometimes abusive, household. These children usually develop certain characteristics and personalities because of these distressing experiences.

Each individual’s experience with alcohol or drug addiction is unique; therefore the following personality traits and characteristics are not applicable to every person, though they are commonly found in adult children of alcoholics.

1. They are overly sensitive to other people’s needs

Adult children of alcoholics often take on parental roles while they are living in an alcoholic household. They have more responsibilities than usual for children of their age and may have to do things such as take care of their younger siblings and even their parents. This can cause them to become oversensitive to the needs of other people when they grow up, which means that they put everyone else’s needs before their own.

2. They have difficulties with self-regulation

Adult children may adopt what is known as black and white thinking. This means that they exhibit all or nothing thinking, which results in engaging in extremes with no understanding of a middle ground or grey area. An example of this is when a person swings between being severely overwhelmed and shutting down. They become accustomed to living life on the edge due to their exposure to tension in alcoholic household.

3. They have problems with project completion

Children who grow up in alcoholic households tend to have a hard time completing projects. Whilst growing up, they are often busy surviving the chaos that occurs on a daily basis that they may not learn vital problem-solving skills, such as how to develop a manageable course of action and seeing it through.

4. They struggle when it comes to enjoyment

We usually associate childhood with having fun and being carefree. Unfortunately, many children of alcoholics were not able to have fun or relax because of the responsible role that they had to adopt. In adult life, this usually translates to feeling as though they do not deserve to have a good time.

5. They are Extremely Self-critical

It can be hard for children to realise that they are not responsible for their parent’s behaviour. They may witness their parent’s behaviour and blame themselves for it. Adult children are often very hard on themselves for any little slip-up and even dismiss anything good that happens as a fluke.

6. They Constantly Aim for Approval

Many children of alcoholics rarely, or never, received support or approval while they were growing up. This causes them to gain their sense of self-worth from other people’s approval and can turn them into people pleasers later on in life.

7. They Have a Hard Time Standing Up for Themselves

Adult children of alcoholics are usually so accustomed to putting their addicted parent’s needs first that they start believing that their feelings and thoughts are not as important. This can make it difficult for them to stand up for themselves, and develop a tendency to give in to other people’s needs before their own.

8. They Feel as Though No One Understands Them

Growing up in an alcoholic household often causes feelings of shame and guilt, which can cause children to become secretive and isolated. They think that other children do not understand them, which tends to have a negative effect on their ability to gain social skills. Feeling as though no one understands them can cause mood disorders such as anxiety and depression in adulthood.

9. They Confuse Love with Pity

It is common for adult children of alcoholics to develop relationships with other people who need rescuing. They may end up with other people who have an addiction, are compulsive or who need rescuing in some form.

10. They are Very Loyal

One of the most common characteristics of adult children of alcoholics is that they tend to be very loyal. Despite all of the hardships that they went through, adult children usually stand by their parents regardless of the way they were treated. This can cause them to meet the wrong partner and stay in an unhealthy relationship simply because they feel compelled to stay loyal.

The Strengths in Adult Children of Alcoholics

Despite the previously mentioned inclinations, children of alcoholics have some incredible strengths – such as responsibility, empathy, and drive. For those who still need help, there are support and recovery groups available for adult children of alcoholics to deal with the impacts of their childhood and come out on top.

Alcohol Addiction Treatment at The Dawn Rehab in Thailand

If you are battling an alcohol addiction then it is time to stop harming yourself and those who care for you. The Dawn offers highly-personalised and intensive drug and alcohol addiction treatment programme that is tailored to give our client’s the best chance of recovery. Contact The Dawn today to receive a no-obligation assessment and find out how we can help.

Scroll to Top