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A Discussion of the Psychological Characteristics of Children of Alcoholics

on Monday, 27 October 2014. Posted in Breaking News

Alcoholism is a disease that impacts not just the person drinking, but all of the people who are close to them. When a person is addicted to alcohol, they often behave in ways that are threatening or confusing to the people in their life.

There are perhaps no people as drastically impacted by alcoholism as those who are entrusted in their care. The children of alcoholics often have a number of shared traits among one another. Here are a few of the common characteristics that many of the children of alcoholics share.

Inaccessible Emotions

People who were raised by an alcoholic or by two alcoholics frequently act "shut off" or disengaged, and may have a difficult time showing or accessing their emotions. This is because children in alcoholic households are frequently punished for showing or expressing emotions.

Many people who are addicted to alcohol drink to avoid uncomfortable emotions, and then when they are intoxicated, may become irrationally angry or sad. This can cultivate a living situation wherein emotions are something to be feared.

Frequently, adult children of alcoholics have to go through a process of getting used to communicate how they are feeling.

Conflict Aversion

Children of alcoholics may struggle with confrontation well into their adult lives. This is because as children, they are often the person in the household who must stop fights or bouts of anger.

From a very young age, children of alcoholics learn that conflict leads to anger and hurt. They may have to settle arguments between parents or other children. They very infrequently see examples of healthy conflict resolution, and see conflict as a universally negative event.

This can work in conjunction with feelings of being shut off or feeling the need to hide or avoid strong feelings.

Fear of Intimacy

When a child is raised by a person who is addicted to alcohol, they learn that not even their care taker is dependable. They often see their parents behaving in two different ways, so they learn that they cannot trust even those closest to them to behave in a reliable manner.

This leads to a fear of intimacy that can impact romantic and other close relationships in adulthood. This fear of intimacy can cause them to sabotage relationships or to subconsciously couple up with people who are a destructive force in their lives.

Severe Need For Validation

Because children of alcoholics receive praise and encouragement so infrequently in childhood, they may, as adults, need constant approval. This may negatively impact their professional lives and their goals in general.

A need for validation may leave a person constantly struggling to please those in their lives and coming up empty handed. They may be attracted to those who will never be truly satisfied by their efforts.

This need for validation is also frequently accompanied by low self esteem, and a person who exhibits a severe need for approval often finds themselves attracted to people or situations who ironically will not give it to them.

Increased Chances of Alcoholism

People who are raised by alcoholics are at a much higher risk of becoming alcoholics themselves. Alcohol is a disease that is partially impacted by genetics, so the offspring of alcoholics may be more likely to exhibit addictive tendencies.

Children raised by alcoholics often have lower self esteem, which is another factor that puts them at a higher risk for developing alcoholism. Many children of alcoholics may choose to completely avoid alcohol in adulthood, as a means of preventing any possible dependency on this dangerous and habit forming drug.


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