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How Growing up With an Alcoholic Parent Shaped Me as an Adult

By Expert HERWriter
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Growing up With an Alcoholic Parent Shaped Me in Adulthood kieferpix/Fotolia

“Let’s get a drink” is a common phrase used by friends, family and colleagues as part of being social. However for 18 million Americans2, alcohol abuse is a problem invading not only their bodies but their minds and relationships.

Alcoholism affects the loved ones of the alcoholic as much as it affects the alcoholic.

I have been conscious of alcohol abuse and its ravaging effects on families because I grew up with an alcoholic father. It made me particularly sensitive about drinking too much or depending on it as a way to handle my emotions.

I attended Alateen meetings so that I could understand how alcoholism was impacting the way I viewed the world. It definitely influenced my relationship with alcohol and prevented me from falling into alcohol dependence.

I learned in my teens that children of alcoholics had certain common characteristics.

Adult children of alcoholics can have issues with esteem and shame. I know that it took me a long time to work through issues of feeling like I was less than my counterparts.

“They may believe on some level that they did something to deserve the neglect they experienced. I know I felt that way. As adults these children often may suffer from anxiety and/or depression as well,” said Cara Gardenswartz, PhD, a clinical psychologist in Beverly Hills, California, as reported in a WebMD.com article.

For all of my teen years and most of my adult life, I have struggled with issues with esteem and trust. To most people that have met me, that might seem a shocking statement because of my big personality.

Mine was a silent struggle which can be one of the loneliness and of the most damaging. I was used to hiding the truth about my father’s alcohol abuse so it was no different from hiding my low self-esteem with others.

Children of alcoholics have a need to have control of situations or relationships. They don’t like to be vulnerable because they have learned not to trust their caregivers. Gardenswartz said, “If you grow up in a family where everything is unpredictable, you tend to want to hold on to a feeling of control.”

1) Adult Children of Alcoholics. WebMD.com. 12 April 2016.

2) Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse. Nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus .12 April 2016.

3) Why should I attend Alateen? Al-anon.org. 12 April 2016.

4) Children of Alcoholics Community Action Guide. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Retrieved April 28, 2016.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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