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Personality Traits and Characteristics of Adult Children of Alcoholics

February 17th, 2021

If you are someone who grew up with one or both of your parents battling alcohol addiction, you know everyday can feel unpredictable. Children of alcoholics typically don’t get their emotional needs met. Often times, the effects of growing up in that sort of dysfunctional environment can bleed over long into adulthood - plaguing your abilities to live balanced and emotionally healthy lives.

To be an adult child of an alcoholic and be able to recognize that you have struggles that are caused by experiences you had in your childhood, that is progress. You have the ability to realize that you are no longer a child who is the victim of a circumstance or situation. You have the ability to work through these issues and not let them affect you any longer.

There are a few common personality traits or characteristics among adult children of alcoholics. Among them, include:

1. Impulsive Behavior. Many adult children of alcoholics act or respond impulsively in varying situations without thinking of the consequences of their actions.

2. Isolation. Adult children of alcoholics often do not know what a “normal” response is in any given situation and often guess at the appropriate way to respond. These individuals often feel like they are different from everyone around them, and many believe that they either cannot function with other people as a result, which can make it difficult to maintain positive relationships.

3. Approval Seeking. Many people who grew up with parents battling addiction never got the approval that they deserved or even needed as children. This becomes an issue that often bleeds into their adult lives.

4. Low Self-Esteem. This one sort of ties into the approval seeking behavior. Adult children of alcoholics likely did not receive the love or attention they needed as kids. This can lead them to believe deep down that they aren’t deserving of it - leading to low self-esteem.

5. Difficulty in Romantic Relationships. Many adults who grew up with alcoholic parents struggle to create and maintain healthy relationships - both friendly and romantic. This can often be because they never had a solid example of a positive romantic relationship as a youth. Adult children may also form relationships with others who need their help or need to be rescued, to the extent of neglecting their own needs.

6. Overreaction to Change. Unsolicited change is almost always received negatively by adult children of alcoholics. Instead of being able to process the potential positive sides of the presented change or focus on how to adjust and move forward, the individuals’ response is often an extreme overreaction that is emotional in nature.

7. Substance Abuse. Even though adult children of alcoholics have experienced first hand the negative effects of addiction, they may still develop substance abuse disorders themselves. Some studies may argue that they are genetically predisposed to addiction, or even early age of first use, a lack of positive coping mechanisms for managing stress,or some combination of these things

If you are someone who grew up with alcoholic parents and can relate to some of these characteristics and struggles within yourself, there is help available. There are many support groups for adult children of alcoholics that allow you to have a community of others who can relate to the experiences that you have gone through. Being able to connect with others and talk through how your past does not have to affect your future can be incredibly powerful. On the other hand, not everyone finds as much peace when speaking with groups. For those, there are mental health therapists who work to specifically help those who grew up with addicted parents. These individuals can help you to cope with conflict in new and constructive ways.

If you or a loved one are battling addiction and want to find the road to recovery, Windmill Wellness Ranch is here to help. Contact our admissions team today in order to learn more on how to get started.