Adult Children of Alcoholic: Symptoms, Traits, and Consequences

While many parents may think that their alcoholism is affecting no one but themselves, that is far from the truth. The fact is that loved ones that are connected to the alcoholic parent are also very much affected by the issue. From consistent arguments, fights, chaos, and more, these problems can seriously affect children, affecting their growth and, subsequently, their adult life. This can lead to what’s known as ACoAs, short for Adult Children of Alcoholics.

What Is Adult Children Of Alcoholics?

Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACoAs) are children of alcoholics that have grown up to be adults with various problems that they may struggle with in their day-to-day lives. The problems may be as drastic as issues with drug and/or alcohol use or as subtle as a reliance on gambling and/or sex to feel alive and like they belong. ACoAs are likely to have specific issues in relationships, low self-esteem, issues with trust, and more.

Furthermore, ACoAs sometimes struggle with disorders and issues that can be traced back to their childhood. They may be prone to conditions like anxiety and depression and may have issues with codependency, in addition to what their mother or father went through.

What Are The Consequences Of A Child Growing Up With Alcoholic Parents?

If a child is raised by an alcoholic parent, they are at a higher risk of being abused. Many alcoholic parents may be dealing with other issues, such as depression and even post-traumatic stress disorder. Furthermore, when the alcoholic parent is intoxicated, they are not in control of themselves, which can lead to more abuse of the child.

In addition to the possibility of abuse, children with alcoholic parents may be dealing with a range of other issues. They may face social and emotional problems, learning problems, and even get physically ill, and may be dealing with difficulties with friends and/or relationships. Some may be experiencing drug and/or alcohol use, low self-esteem, and more.

What Traits Do Adult Children Of Alcoholics Develop?

There are a couple of traits that ACoAs commonly develop, and here are a few examples of the traits that ACoAs have:

1. Inability to trust: ACoAs often have trust issues, and their decision to have a child or marriage may be based on the idea of trying to prove they will be able to be a better parent and spouse than their own parents were.

2. Low Self-Esteem: Very often, ACoAs struggle with issues with self-esteem, feeling as though they aren’t good enough and/or that they don’t deserve to be happy.

3. Codependency: ACoAs are often codependents, which means that they are more likely to depend on others to make them happy. This is likely because they never learned to make themselves happy or because they have issues trusting others.

4. Impulsive Nature: ACoAs are more likely to struggle with impulse control and may turn to things like gambling, sex, or even just spending money compulsively. This can be related to the fact that they are missing out on some kind of reward that they never learned to provide themselves.

5. Anxiety: ACoAs often struggle with anxiety and may feel as though they are living in a constant state of fear.

6. Depression: ACoAs are also more likely to suffer from depression compared to individuals who did not grow up with alcoholic parents.

7. Substance Abuse: ACoAs are more likely to be addicted to substances. This may be related to the issues with impulse control, as well as the fact that they are attempting to fill a void in their life

8. Relationship Issues: ACoAs are more likely to struggle in relationships since they often have trust issues or low self-esteem. Trust is vital to any relationship, and the lack of it can lead to many serious problems in any relationship.

9. Inconsistency: ACoAs may have a hard time completing things since they often find themselves making excuses for their behavior. They will often find it tough to follow through with their promises or commit to anything.

10. Self-Sabotage: ACoAs are more likely to find themselves sabotaging their own success, happiness, and/or relationships. This can happen for many reasons, and whether they’re always suspecting something bad is going to happen or doubtful of what’s possible, they end up sabotaging themselves.

adult children of alcoholics traits
Adult Children Of Alcoholics

How Do I Know If I’m An Adult Children Of Alcoholics?

If you have grown up with alcoholic parents, you may still have issues that can be traced back to your childhood. Even if your parents no longer drink, you may still face issues dealing with self-esteem, your relationships, trust, consistency, and more. 

If you think you may be an adult child of an alcoholic, you may want to take adult children of alcoholics test to get an idea of what your problem is. There are many adult children of alcoholics tests that are designed to provide you with the information you need to make a positive change in your life.

How Can An Adult Children Of Alcoholics Find Help?

If you or a loved one is suffering from the effects of a parent’s alcoholism, help may be available. You can overcome the issues that you face and learn to live a life that is happy and fulfilling. For example, you can attend support groups to find others that are dealing with the same issues or join an individual therapy session to find the tools you need to deal with what you are going through. You can also attend therapy sessions with your children since they may also be suffering from the issues that you are dealing with.

In addition to all of that, if you are an ACoA, it is highly important to seek help for yourself if you are dealing with substance abuse issues. If you are an adult and you are living with an alcoholic parent, you can likely find a group or program to help you deal with the issue.


To wrap things up, ACoAs have a lot of deep-rooted issues that they may be struggling with. Clearly, a parent’s alcoholism can affect a child in many ways, whether they are struggling with substance abuse, health issues, or relationship issues. And, even when that child grows up into an adult or the parents have stopped drinking, the effects can still continue to affect the individual’s life, hurting them in ways they may not even realize.

That being said, if you know that you’re an ACoA or you know someone that is an ACoA, it is vital that you seek help as soon as you can. There are many centers out there that offer help to such individuals, and you should not be afraid or hesitant to seek help, especially if you want to change your life for the better. Remember, through therapy and support groups, as well as by seeking help for substance abuse issues and other problems, you can overcome the issues that you are facing. While drastic life changes may not happen overnight, such help will help you slowly improve yourself. And, one day, you’re going to be able to step out of your home feeling like a more confident, braver, and, more importantly, happier new individual!