Sunday, October 6, 2013

Children of Alcoholics...???

What Happens to Children of Alcoholics

You can imagine what happens when you think about what it’s like to be on the receiving end of a parent’s drinking behaviors and you don’t understand the reason for those behaviors (i.e., the alcohol changing how the brain works).
In her article, ”Adult Children of Alcoholics, ACoAs: Qualities and Traits,” Dr. Tian Dayton, Clinical Psychologist and Author, shares the toll alcoholism takes on children as they try to stay out of harm’s way, avoid “triggering” their parent’s verbal or physical wrath, feel embarrassed to bring friends over, become anxious about their parent’s unpredictable behavior, or always feeling the need to take care of their parent instead of their parent taking care of them. The toll can include:
  • Problem with self-regulation
  • Hyper vigilance/anxiety
  • Emotional constriction
  • Loss of trust and faith
  • Unresolved grief
  • Traumatic bonding
  • Learned helplessness
  • Somatic disturbances
  • Tendency to isolate
  • High risk behaviors
  • Survival guilt
  • Shame
  • Developing rigid psychological defenses
  • Distorted reasoning
  • Depression with feelings of despair
  • Loss of ability to accept caring and support from others
  • Desire to self-medicate
Again, to learn more about the toll on children of alcoholics, please read Dr. Dayton’s post, “Adult Children of ACoAs: Qualities and Traits.”
To learn more about the connection between a child’s early experiences, such as those described here that occur when growing up with alcohol abuse or alcoholism in one’s family, and that child’s later-in-life health and well-being, check out the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)’s website, Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Study, Major Findings.