Who Are the Children of Alcoholism?
Alcoholism has wide-ranging effects on everyone around the alcoholic. Most people who grew up as children in an alcoholic home never really grow up in many ways. The example of parents is incredibly warped by an addiction which drains them of proper thought processes and judgment.
Dr. Janet Woititz came up with the following list to describe the ‘typical’ adult child of alcoholism:
- Guesses at what normal is.
- Has difficulty following a project through from beginning to end.
- Lies compulsively.
- Judges him- or herself incessantly.
- Has difficulty having fun.
- Takes themselves very seriously.
- Has trouble with intimate relationships.
- Overreacts to changes forced upon them.
- Is either very responsible or very irresponsible.
- Is very loyal, even when that loyalty is undeserved.
- Gets locked in a course of action without thinking about results.
- Is frightened by angry people/criticism
- Has difficulty with identity issues related to seeking the approval of others.
- Seeks isolation and fear of people.
- Perpetually victimizes him/herself and sees the world from the perspective of a victim.
- Gets feelings of guilt for standing up for their own rights.
- Confuses love and pity.
- Avoids feelings of traumatic childhood experiences and denies feelings.
- Has dysfunctional approaches to problems.
- Is afraid that people might find out “what I’m really like.”
These characteristics are very general and do not apply to all children of alcoholics. There are many other characteristics as well, and this should be evaluated by a professional. However, it is important to remember that alcoholism is a family disease.
Those surrounding an alcoholic will take on characteristics of the said alcoholic, becoming ‘para-alcoholics. ’ This practice will continue throughout their adulthood. Very often they will avoid discussing even with close family members the impact those experiences had on them. This emotional isolation is one of the worst psychological results of alcoholism, but it is also the beginning of healing.
Healing begins with moving out of isolation and letting repressed feelings come back out. As adult children of alcoholism lack the thought mechanics to deal effectively with these emotions themselves, it is very important to have knowledgeable people, often those who have gone through the same journey, at hand.
This can be accomplished through almost any counseling center or Alcoholics Anonymous group. It uses the same 12-step program as A.A. and is intensely focused on developing one’s own spirituality. Actions begin to descend out of love from the group. This extends to the adult child’s outside life and relationships, starting a transformation of existence that is paramount to the healing program. These few short words cannot sum up the deep and extensive emotional intrusion dealing with long-repressed feelings is.
The focus is on developing a relationship with a “Higher power,” what many of us call God, which helps an individual fill in the gaps left out by their dysfunctional parent. This is difficult, yes, but the goal wholesomeness outweighs the short term difficulty.
Now, this type of program sometimes will not suit everyone. There some good holistic alcohol treatment programs in Canada that can help anyone with alcoholism.