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Author: Steve Frisch

Adult Children of Alcoholics: The Promise, The Problem, The Steps

Many of us found that we had several characteristics in common as a result of being brought up in an alcoholic or other dysfunctional households. We had come to feel isolated, and uneasy with other people, especially authority figures. To protect ourselves, we became people pleasers, even though we lost our own identities in the process. All the same we would mistake any personal criticism as a threat. We either became alcoholics ourselves, married them, or both. Failing that, we found other compulsive personalities, such as a workaholic, to fulfill our sick need for abandonment. We lived live from the standpoint of victims. Having an over developed sense of responsibility, we preferred to be concerned with others rather than ourselves. We got guilt feelings when we trusted ourselves, giving in to others. We became reactors rather than actors, letting others take the initiative. We were dependent personalities, terrified of abandonment, willing to do almost anything to hold on to a relationship in order not to be abandoned emotionally. We keep choosing insecure relationships because they matched our childhood relationship with alcoholic or dysfunctional parents. These symptoms of the family disease of alcoholism or other dysfunction made us ‘co-victims’, those who take on the characteristics of the disease without necessarily ever taking a drink. We learned to keep our feelings down as children and keep them buried as adults. As...

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Core Issues of Adult Children of Alcoholics

The phrase adult children of alcoholics (acoa) refers to those individuals who were adversely impacted by familial alcoholism. An ACOA is an individual who experiences a recognizable, diagnosable reaction to familial alcoholism. These individuals are particularly vulnerable to certain emotional, physical, and spiritual problems. There are identifiable core issues that ACOA’s experience. Control is one such issue. The fear of loss of control is a dominant theme in their lives. Control dominates the interactions of an ACOA with themselves as well as the people in their lives. Fear of loss of control, whether it be over one’s emotions, thoughts, feelings, will, actions, or relationships is pervasive. ACOA’s rely upon defenses mechanisms such as denial, suppression in order to control their internal world of thoughts and feelings as well as the outward manifestation of those thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. A second core issue is trust. This is directly attributable to being raised in an environment of chaos, unpredictability, and denial. Repeatedly told to ignore the obvious, deny their own feelings, and distrust the accuracy of their own perceptions ACOA’s eventually begin to distrust not only other people but their own feelings and senses as well. Father is passed out on the couch, mom’s face is buried in a bowl of soup yet nothing is wrong. A third core issue is avoidance of feelings. In the alcoholic family, the child’s (COA)...

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Adult Children of Alcoholics

Adults who were raised in homes organized around chemical dependency or physical abuse may display certain behavior characteristics. These behaviors may be the tip of the ice berg of an underlying emotional or behavioral disorder that is damaging to the emotional and spiritual well-being of the individual. The following list is intended to help you identify the ways in which you may have been affected by familial alcoholism or physical or sexual abuse. We have feelings of low self-esteem that cause us to judge ourselves and others without mercy. We cover up or compensate by trying to be perfect, take responsibility for others, attempt to control the outcome of unpredictable events, get angry when things don’t go our way, or gossip instead of confronting an issue. For example: I find myself constantly finding fault with people. I am hard myself, often to the point of self-hatred. I make myself important to others by doing for them because I don’t believe that people could like me for me. I continually think about maintaining the upper hand in any relationship. We tend to isolate ourselves and to feel uneasy around other people, especially authority figures. For examples: I feel uncomfortable when people focus on me. I lose my voice when I have to stand up for myself.I isolate myself rather than getting involved with groups of people. We are approval seekers...

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Patterns of Codependency

These patterns and characteristics are offered as a tool to aid in self evaluation. They may be particularly helpful to newcomers as they begin to understand codependency and may aid those who have been in recovery a while determining what traits still need attention and transformation. Denial Patterns: I have difficulty identifying what I am feeling. I minimize, alter, or deny how I truly feel. I perceive myself as completely unselfish and dedicated to the well being of others. Low Self Esteem Patterns: I have difficulty making decisions. I judge everything I think, say, or do harshly, as never “good enough.” I am embarrassed to receive recognition and praise or gifts. I do not ask others to meet my needs or desires. I value other’s approval of my thinking, feelings, and behaviors over my own. I do not perceive myself as a lovable or worthwhile person. Compliance Patterns: I compromise my own values and integrity to avoid rejection or others’ anger. I am very sensitive to how others are feeling and feel the same. I am extremely loyal, remaining in harmful situations too long. I value others’ opinions and feelings more than my own and am often afraid to express differing opinions and feelings of my own. I put aside my own interests and hobbies in order to do what others want. I accept sex when I want love....

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