Addiction Help: Knowing the Traits of Adult Children of Alcoholics – Part Two

Addiction | LakehouseRecoveryCenter.comThis article is the second in a two part series. In the first article, 6 of 16 character traits were listed for adult children of alcoholism. These are traits experts in the field of drug addiction treatment have identified. Specifically, the traits listed in this article series were written about by Dr. Janet Woititz, author of the book, Adult Children of Alcoholics.

  • Denial – There is often a pattern of denial to anything that challenges an individual’s sense of self. If someone points to that which an adult child of alcoholism feels shameful about, denial will be the first recourse. Denial is often a pattern in families with drug addiction and may later lead to an adult’s use of drugs as well as drug and alcohol treatment.
  • Compulsive Personalities  – Having learned certain dynamics in their family of origin, an adult child of alcoholism will tend to be drawn to compulsive personalities in their relationships, whether that is among friends, choice of spouse, or in the workplace. It’s common for an adult child of alcoholism to also develop compulsive behavior towards working, eating, or even alcohol or drugs. If he or she were to enter into drug addiction therapy, he or she might learn how to curb these compulsive tendencies.
  • 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.
  • 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, and this often includes the presence of drugs and/or alcohol.
  • 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.

Anyone raised in an alcoholic family might be able to identify with the character traits listed in this article series. Furthermore, those who may have participated in drug detox and/or residential drug treatment might be able to acknowledge these traits and perhaps make different decisions to change the patterns among their relationships with family and friends.


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