13 Personality Traits of Alcoholic Children

March 20, 2024
Solace Asia

What Is Alcoholic Children?

The term ‘Alcoholic Children’ refers to children of alcoholics. It refers to children who have one or both parents struggling with alcoholism or alcohol abuse. These children often grow up in environments characterized by instability, unpredictability, neglect, and sometimes abuse due to their parent(s)'s alcohol use disorder. They may experience various emotional, psychological, and social challenges as well as carry childhood trauma throughout their lifetime as a result of their upbringing.

13-Personality Traits Of Alcohol

Janet G. Woititz, EdD, renowned as "Dr. Jan," was a respected author, educator, and therapist who had personal experience as the spouse of an alcoholic. In 1983 one of her influential books "Adult Children of Alcoholics," delineated 13 key characteristics where she not only identified these traits in adult children of alcoholics but also extended their applicability to individuals raised in environments where other compulsive behaviors such as gambling, drug abuse, or overeating were prevalent. These traits are as follows:

  1. Fear Of Abandonment:
    Due to unstable family dynamics, children may develop a fear of being abandoned or left alone. They also fear losing control and are afraid of their own emotions, and any sense of authenticity. They see any expression of truth as a form of confrontation.

  1. Difficulty Trusting Others:
    Growing up with unreliable caregivers can lead to a lack of trust in others. They tend to both push other people away and self-isolate themselves. Unfortunately, this difficulty in trusting others persists into adulthood even long after the individual is out of the environment that created the original stress.

  1. Difficulty Expressing Emotions:
    Children may struggle to identify and express their feelings effectively due to the alcoholic household they grew up where emotional expression is often unhealthy or absent altogether. They might feel that expressing their feelings could lead to conflict or worsen the already unstable situation and suppress their emotions as a survival mechanism.

  1. Low-self Esteem:
    Constant criticism and negative experiences from alcoholic families while growing up contribute to feelings of inadequacy and low self-worth among children. In households affected by alcoholism, children are subjected to constant criticism, blame, or neglect. Without affirmations of their worth and capabilities, they internalize negative beliefs about themselves.

  1. Overdeveloped Sense of Responsibility:
    Children feel overly responsible for the well-being of others or for situations beyond their control. Growing up in an environment marked by instability and unpredictability, children may develop a strong desire for control as a coping mechanism. They may believe that by assuming responsibility for others or situations, they can mitigate the chaos and ensure a sense of order and stability in their lives.

  1. Difficulty in Developing Close Relationships:
    Trust issues and fear of vulnerability among children can hinder the formation of intimate connections. Growing up in an environment characterized by parental alcoholism often involves experiencing broken promises, emotional neglect, or even abuse. Thus children struggle to let down their guard and share their innermost thoughts and feelings with others, fearing that doing so will make them vulnerable to manipulation or betrayal.

  1. Avoidance of Conflict:
    Children of alcoholics often learn to avoid confrontation and conflict to maintain a semblance of peace in their tumultuous households. However, this avoidance can lead to unresolved issues and inner turmoil as they suppress their own needs and emotions to avoid upsetting others.

  1. Need for External Validation:
    Due to emotional neglect or instability in their upbringing, children of alcoholics may seek validation and approval from others to fill the void left by parental neglect. They often seek approval as self-assurance, since they have trouble maintaining relationships. Their self-esteem comes from others’ judgments of them, thus having the compulsive need to be perfectionists and be accepted.

  1. Perfectionism:
    Striving for perfection becomes a way for children of alcoholics to gain a sense of control and validation in an otherwise chaotic environment. By setting impossibly high standards for themselves, they hope to prove their worth and gain approval from others, often at the cost of their own well-being.

  1. Denial or Minimization of Problems:
    Children raised in alcoholic households may learn to downplay or deny the severity of their family's issues as a coping mechanism. By minimizing the problems they face, they attempt to maintain a sense of normalcy and avoid confronting painful realities about their upbringing.

  1. Impulsivity:
    Seeking instant gratification or excitement can be a response to the lack of stability and consistency in childhood. Adult children of alcoholics may engage in impulsive behaviors as a way to escape from their emotional pain or numb their feelings temporarily.

  1. Difficulty Setting Boundaries:
    Growing up in environments where boundaries are blurred or nonexistent, adult children of alcoholics may struggle to assert their own needs and boundaries in relationships. This difficulty in setting boundaries can leave them vulnerable to exploitation and manipulation by others.

  1. Tendency Toward Substance Abuse:
    Exposure to alcohol abuse in childhood increases the risk of developing substance abuse issues later in life. Adult children of alcoholics may turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to cope with unresolved trauma or emotional pain inherited from their upbringing.

Treatment At Solace Asia

Living as an alcoholic child, whether in adulthood or as a child; is stifling. It's important to seek recovery from this condition as soon as possible. Codependency is a chronic illness that needs as much treatment as addiction. But, the first step is to live separately from your parent if he/she remains to be in active addiction. At Solace Asia, we conduct interventions to help bring a loved one into treatment. But, in protecting yourself from the toxicity of addiction, it's important to form safe boundaries. Here, you will learn how to do just that. And we will introduce you to a life that is free from the strife of being an alcoholic child. 

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