The Character Traits of Adult Children of Alcoholics (Part Two)

The Character Traits of Adult Children of Alcoholics (Part Two) |

This article is the second in a two part series. In the first article, The Character Traits of Adult Children of Alcoholics (Part One), 8 of 16 character traits were listed that adult children of alcoholism tend to have. As pointed out in the first article, the following list does not necessarily describe those traits of an alcoholic family, but instead the traits of an adult who grew up in a family environment that included addiction or compulsive behavior.

The remaining 8 of the 16 traits are:

  • Difficulty with Intimacy – Intimacy challenges the level of control that an adult child of alcoholism has over his or her life. They typically have difficulty with expressing their needs in intimate relationships.
  • Victim Mindset – Often, an adult child of alcoholism has a mentality of being a victim, including not feeling connected to his or her own power. Instead, they tend to blame others for their own challenges versus taking responsibility and making the changes they want or need to in life.
  • Compulsive Behavior – Having this behavior pattern in their family of origin, it is common for an adult child of alcoholism to also develop compulsive behavior towards working, eating, or even alcohol or drugs.
  • Abandonment – The pain of abandonment, often experienced in some form during childhood, will lead to staying in dysfunctional relationships as an adult. In order to avoid the extreme pain of abandonment, an adult child of alcoholism will stay in a relationship regardless of the level of its dysfunction.
  • Physical Illness – An adult child of alcoholism are often vulnerable to stress related illnesses. They tend to thrive on adrenaline, feelings of control, and high levels of pressure. Experiencing this frequently in life makes them prone to illnesses related to stress and anxiety.
  • Grief – Depression is also common among adult children of alcoholism. Losses during childhood are often rarely resolved in an alcoholic home and thus making their appearances again in adulthood.
  • Overreacting – An adult child of alcoholism tend to be hyper vigilant of their surroundings and of the behavior and responses of others. Furthermore, they have a tendency to see most events and people in extremes, particularly when under stress or pressure.
  • Living in Chaos – As mentioned above, an adult child of alcoholism tends thrive on high levels of adrenaline. He or she is very familiar with chaos,
  • Confusion Between Love and Pity – It is common for an adult child of alcoholism to be involved in a cycle of rescuing others and doing so leads to feelings of love. Confusing pity with love was likely a dynamic learned in their family of origin. Often, being a rescuer is one of three relationship roles played out in dysfunctional families. These are rescuer, abuser, and victim. It is not uncommon that an individual who assumes one role will end up playing the other two at some point in the relationship.

This list is meant to provide information on the typical dynamics found in someone raised in a family with dysfunctional relationship patterns, often found in alcoholic homes. Having this knowledge can hopefully assist anyone who is ready to make healthy changes in their relationships, in their recovery process, and in achieving a fulfilling and successful life. Developing awareness is always the first step towards making these changes. Of course, making larger changes in life requires making different choices in each moment, particularly in relationships.

Although doing this can be incredibly difficult because it challenges the very conditioning and familiarity in which an individual was raised, the benefits are worth the effort!


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