Almost one in five adults in the US lived in an alcoholic home. Adult Children of alcoholics often to not recognize some of the thinking and behavior patterns often learned as a result. To begin to learn that you are not alone can open the door for healing.
Whether family problems were significant or not, most ACOAs will eventually face a crisis where their inability to manage feelings/emotions, and have the necessary relationship skills one hopes for, motivates them to seek support and help.
Parents often worry that the possible negative consequences of alcoholism and a subsequent divorce may negatively impact a child and any future relationships they may want to have. Despite their resolve to never live like his/her parents, they are often blind to the early signs of addiction in their husband or wife and the impact on the family.
Eventually reaching out for help they are determined to break the cycle by facing his/her childhood. This starts the road of recovery. Often ACOAs seek help when their children reach an age that is close to the time of pain from their own childhood, or the ending a significant relationship. They may also seek help when they notice painful recurring patterns of behavior in their relationships.
Most adult children of alcoholics want to minimize the negative impact of growing up in an alcoholic home. ACOA’S never speak of it and assume they can just move on and let it go forever. Most often, the shadows of a troubled childhood follow us until we find the courage to face it. The process of healing from growing up in an insecure, toxic environment, takes time, but it is so worth the effort and tears. Quality of life improves significantly when you are able to identify old patterns, practice new ways of responding, and eliminate the blind spots that have influenced your choices.
Every alcoholic family is different, with various codes, and set of rules. ACOAs may have loving but inconsistent parents, and moods changes quickly, making it hard to trust yourself or others.
With help and support, we learn it is is possible to love someone and be disappointed and hurt at the same time. These conflicting feelings can be managed as we learn to respond in healthier ways, creating connection with parents and adult siblings.
Important tools/skill for healing;
- Begin to design a support system – Knowing you are not alone gives you courage and reduces the fear and shame you may be carrying.
- Learning about the disease of addiction, and how family member are impacted, finding HOPE and HEALING for the whole family.
- Learn the ways you adapted to a dysfunctional environment and how this may be playing out in your relationships today.
- Seeing your resilience and strength!!!
Although we cannot fix the past, healing and recovery are possible with support and guidance. Experiential methods with ACOAs has been shown to decrease feelings of shame, increase self esteem, and demonstrate tools for healthier relationships.