Adult Children of Alcoholics or ACOAs is a term coined by Dr. Woititz. ACOAs refer to children who grew up in an environment where one or both parents struggled with alcoholism. Children falling in this category are not necessarily biological. They can be adopted or step-children.
Living in a house where one or both parents abuse alcohol and substances can be frustrating. Such children are often seen to struggle with mental health issues and some even begin substance abuse at an early age. A few other dangers of growing up in such an environment are:
- Physical danger
Children growing up in alcoholic households are likely to experience physical abuse at some point. They may also feel neglected due to their parent’s alcoholism. While others may be seen living in unsafe and unsanitary conditions.
- Emotional and psychological damage
Mental and emotional damage is a common side effect of living with alcoholic parents. Children suffer from low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, etc. Some may also struggle with inadequacy and feelings of guilt and shame.
- Increased of addiction
Living in an alcoholic environment poses a great risk of developing addiction, especially for young minds. ACOAs are also observed to suffer from alcohol and substance addiction at an early age.
- Relationship issues
ACOAs also develop trust issues when it comes to forming new relationships. They cannot easily make new friends, or engage in romantic affairs due to their past experiences.
- Poor academic and career performances
Parents’ alcoholism also directly affects children’s academic performance. With a poor base in school, these children may also struggle at work.
How to Help ACOAs?
ACOAs live a more difficult life than one can imagine. Thus, if you know someone struggling with this problem, lend a helping hand in the following ways:
- Join a support group
You can advise such children to join support groups specially arranged for ACOAs. This helps them learn ways to cope with challenging situations at home.
- Seek therapy
You can suggest they seek individual therapy. Going to an addiction and trauma expert can help them relieve their stress and emotions.
- Educate yourself
Learn more about alcoholism and its effects on families and children. Knowing this can allow you to give the right advice.
Lastly, the best way to help ACOAs is by convincing parents to seek help. You can bring them to Taylor Recovery. We are serving in Dallas, Texas, and offer specialized programs for alcoholism. Contact our team today to enroll in the program.