Are You ACOA (Adult Child of an Alcoholic)?

Did you have a parent or carer who was drinking excessively? One of the sad aspects of alcoholism is that it affects the children of that person’s family.  Alcoholism does create a dysfunctional family – it does not work the way a healthy family system supports and gives nurturing to each member.

There can be four ways that children are affected that have been generally agreed (originally in the USA I believe).  The successful high achiever who has low self-esteem underneath that achievement.  They are frequently the only child or  the oldest child of a family.  Because they may be the hero of the family and look like they are ok the family ignores their needs and they can become parentified – taking care of the adults and other children.

In a multi-child family you can find the clown – making people laugh to overcome their internal fears because they cannot actually handle the stress.  Humour masks the child’s pain and anxiety.  The humour relieves family tensions.  The jollity creates the illusion that the child is not in need of care and support.

It is possible for a child to be a loner and withdraw into invisibility as a way of trying to survive.  They may be seen as the ‘angel’ who does not cause the family trouble.  This child may feel lost.

The family may use a child as a scapegoat – he or she may be the rebellious one and thus everyone gets to be overly focused on their troublemaking rather than deal with the real problem which is the drinker’s drinking.

Unpredictability and consistent inconsistency can be a hallmark of alcohol abuse in a family and extremely difficult to live with.  The child/children of the family are only ‘allowed’ to feel what the alcoholic finds acceptable and thus they can lose touch with their own perceptions of reality.

If you grew up in a family where there was too much drinking please read my e-book “My Drinking Isn’t A Problem!” available on Amazon or via my website shop.  Also, see my blog at



2 thoughts on “Are You ACOA (Adult Child of an Alcoholic)?

  1. It’s actually a nice and helpful piece of information. I am satisfied that you simply shared this useful info with us. Please keep us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing.

  2. My brother recommended I would possibly like this website. He used to be entirely right. This post actually made my day. You can not consider simply how a lot time I had spent for this information! Thank you!