How Growing Up With Alcohol Parents Can Affect Children Psychologically

Additionally, some children of alcoholics unknowingly seek out partners that have similar traits as the alcoholic parent, creating little room for a healthy relationship. The emotional trauma of living with an alcoholic can include issues like abuse and neglect. Your parents’ substance abuse hinders their ability to be a trusted, stable figure in your life. Research shows that if you experienced trauma from a parent with addiction, you’re more likely to develop a substance use disorder and have poorer emotional, social, intellectual, and physical outcomes. Children with alcoholic parents often have to take care of their parents and siblings.

How does my drinking affect my child?

Parents who abuse alcohol typically provide less nurturance to their offspring. They are more often “emotionally unavailable” as a result of drinking-related consequences, which include hangovers, irritability, and negative mood states. These effects disrupt healthy emotional development in their children.

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Often, alcoholism results in a feeling of secrecy, so the child may feel like they cannot talk about their home life or have friends over to their house. In some cases, alcoholic parents become intoxicated in public, possibly in front of people the child may know, which can result in further feelings of embarrassment. The treatment program may include group therapy with other youth, which reduces the isolation of being a child of an alcoholic.

how alcoholic parents affect their children

Perhaps to avoid criticism or the anger of their parent with AUD, many children become super responsible or perfectionists, and can become overachievers or workaholics. On the other hand, it is not uncommon for a person to go in the opposite direction, mirroring the same bad behaviors they may have witnessed during childhood. If a child’s parent was mean or abusive when they were drunk, adult children can grow up with a fear of all angry people. They may spend their lives avoiding conflict or confrontation of any kind, worrying that it could turn violent. These symptoms include hypervigilance, need for control, difficulty with emotions, and low self esteem.


The ACOAs due to facing such behaviors become obsessed with the desire to control the inappropriate behavior of their parent and to dysfunctional environment of the family environment. One can say it is due to facing such extreme sadism in hand of parents that ACOAs grow up to become control addicts over another as this gives him/her as it makes him/her feel important.

  • Thus, external validation of self becomes important for ACOAs as they lack the capability of seeing his/her own worth.
  • Since lower maternal warmth and lower social competence have a significant link, it is safe to hypothesize that alcoholic fathers contribute to lower social competence by causing significant stress to their partner.
  • If your client’s custody case involves Alcohol Use Disorder, Soberlink can be a useful tool in supporting the mental health and physical safety of children.
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Since children of alcoholics were told not to communicate their issues in childhood, they have trouble expressing their problems in healthy relationships as an adult. Lastly, the ACOAs expressed regretting not speaking up about the alcoholism either to their parent or a trusted adult. The participants realized as a adults that staying quiet prolonged the problem and caused their parent’s alcoholism to worsen (Haverfield & Theiss, 2014). According to Tinnfält, Fröding, Larsson, and Dalal , most studies have focused on toddlers, preschoolers, and adolescents, but there isn’t much research on children around the ages of 7-9.

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Kids or teens who grow up in an addicted household may hold a lot of built-up resentment toward their parents because theynever got to have a “normal” childhood. Their only sense of normalcy was a life filled with chaos, disappointment, and shame. Instead of going to the playground with friends, they might be caring for a younger sibling or searching for their next meal. In other words, a child of an alcoholic parent grows up fast and learns how to fend for themselves. And once they become adults, they may struggle with relationships, or with knowing what behaviors are normal and healthy.

  • Societal awareness regarding problems related to alcoholism has increased due to increased research and studies in the area.
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  • School-related experiences of being discriminated against due to sexual orientation, ethnic origin, and disability were the strongest predictors of sexual harassment victimization.
  • We used a socio-demographic profile sheet, and Child Abuse and Neglect Questionnaire to interview children.
  • In addition, children with high quality peer relationships are at a decreased risk for loneliness and aggression and have a higher academic success rate (Hussong, Zucker, Wong, Fitzgerald, & Puttler, 2005).
  • The researchers hypothesized that this may be because the participants were college aged which is an age where family stressors are emphasized.

This essay aims to understand the affects of alcoholic parents on adult children. The thesis statement for the essay is – while effects of being raised by alcoholics in adult children may vary, fear of failure, desire to control, and developing compulsive behaviors are prevalent characteristics. Parental alcoholism and child abuse and neglect are significant mental health concerns for children living in alcoholic families.


Alcoholic assessment tools Signs of alcoholism in others How to talk to someone who is… Children of alcoholics may benefit from educational programs and group programs such as Al-Anon and Alateen.

how alcoholic parents affect their children

It can lead to a very traumatic childhood that is imbalanced and manifests later in adulthood. While the cognitive deficits observed in some children of alcoholics may be related to FASDs, environmental factors also appear to have an influence. The chaos and stress of their home environment, in particular, can make it hard for a child to stay motivated and organized — two ingredients that are vital to academic success. Compared with non-alcoholic families, alcoholic families demonstrate how alcoholic parents affect their children poorer problem-solving abilities, both among the parents and within the family as a whole. These communication problems many contribute to the escalation of conflicts in alcoholic families. COAs are more likely than non-COAs to be aggressive, impulsive, and engage in disruptive and sensation seeking behaviors. An external factor often causes familial roles to shift, such as sudden unemployment of one or both parents, military deployment, or severe illness or death in the family.

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With our experience and approach of working with the family system when performing an alcohol intervention, we are able to help your family look at things differently. We can work together to help you stop the cycle of confusion that a family endures as the result of alcoholism. A compulsive behavior is a tendency to certain kind of addiction or obsession towards something. Usually an ACOA, being parented by an addict, takes to some kind of addiction. Others may be gambling, drug abuse, eating disorder, or addictive relationships. Others may include excessive religious attitude, chronic illness, workaholism, bulimia, anorexia, etc. Research has shown that female ACOAs were more inclined towards compulsive caregiving (Jaeger, Hahn, & Weinraub, 2000).

  • Unfortunately, the effects of growing up around alcohol use are sometimes so profound that they last a lifetime.
  • Improved documentation of firearms and storage practices among investigated families may better identify families needing firearm-related services.
  • Having alcoholic parents can have several harmful effects on children.
  • Reassure kids that they are not alone, and that there are resources to help them, which we’ll discuss more below.
  • Alcohol is usually valued above family members, friends, and work in the eyes of an alcoholic.
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