Growing up with an alcoholic parent is very tough on children.The non alcoholic spouse is often at a loss what to do. An alcoholic family is a very toxic environment for the children. Adult children of alcoholics are often the walking wounded.
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So what are the lifelong consequences of living with alcoholic parents (mother or father)?
Trust issues- it’s hard to be close with people when your own Mom or Dad has let you down.
Feelings of embarrassment/shame- Your alcoholic parent showed up drunk to a school or athletic function and attracted attention.
Ability to lie- you spent your childhood protecting the alcoholic family secret by lying (making up excuses for the alcoholic parent’s behavior).
Isolation- you didn’t invite friends over or your friends would see your alcoholic parent passed out on the coach.
Increased risk of being victims of domestic violence-your alcoholic parent may have hit you when she had been drinking.
Increased risk of depression and anxiety.
Low self esteem- your alcoholic parent seemed to love alcohol more than you.
Feelings of resentment and anger- nothing is more disappointing than your own parent letting you down. After all, they should take care of you and protect you. The angry feelings are also directed at the non alcoholic parent who “allowed” you to be exposed to this toxic environment.
Increased risk of becoming an alcoholic- there is a 50-60% risk of becoming an alcoholic if one of your parents is an alcoholic.
Increased risk of marrying an alcoholic- there is a 50% risk of marrying an alcoholic.
Constant need for approval.
Feelings of guilt- children from an alcoholic family feel responsible in some way for their parent’s drinking.
This information should be a WAKE CALL to those who read if. If you are an alcoholic parent, get help for your disease. Your children deserve a sober parent. Do what it takes to reach that goal. Start with Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings.
My advice for adult children of alcoholics is as follows: Go to alanon meetings or alateen and get support . You will learn the emotional tools that will help you heal your scars. Keep in mind, that your alcoholic parent has a medical disease. Although their failings as a alcoholic parent have hurt you deeply, it is the disease of alcoholism you have witnessed, not a lack of love. Your parent’s alcohol problem is not your fault.