What do Adult Children of Alcoholics go through?

Alcoholism doesn’t just affect the person with the substance abuse disorder. It affects everyone around them, especially their children.

Growing up in an atmosphere affected by alcoholism involves illogical thinking, inconsistency and unclear roles. Children of alcoholics may carry this trauma throughout their lives. That’s why many children who grew up with alcoholic parents develop common traits.


Growing up with alcoholism, children can only guess what normal behavior is. This feeling of being different from others makes it difficult for them to function with others in a healthy manner. This feeling often results in isolation.

Seeking Approval

Growing up as a child of an alcoholic parent can make an individual overly sensitive to the needs of others. They may place other people’s opinions above their own, allowing their self-worth to be affected by people’s judgments and having a compulsive need to be accepted.

Low Self-Esteem

After years of anger, ridicule, intimidation and contempt, most adult children of alcoholics grow up with a very low sense of self-esteem. Regardless of their competence, they are their own worst critics and judge themselves mercilessly.

Fear of Abandonment

Because most children of alcoholic parents faced deprivation and abandonment within the home, they tend to excessively fear abandonment, as adults. They may develop dependent personalities, and hold onto relationships even if the relationship is unhealthy.

Being a Victim

Adult children of alcoholics may struggle with victimhood, blaming others and becoming defensive if they have to own up to their mistakes.

Where to find help?

If you are an adult child of an alcoholic, you can overcome the legacy of alcoholism by seeking trauma healing.