The Long Term Effects Of Growing Up In Addicted or Alcoholic Home | ACoA



What are some of the effects on adults when you grew up having a parent addicted to drugs or alcohol? This question was recently posted by one of our viewers on YouTube and I thought it was a great topic to elaborate on.


If you grew up in an addicted household, it has no doubt had lasting repercussions and effects on you. Believe it or not, some of those effects don't even show up, or you don't even recognize them as issues or problem areas until you're an adult. You can have several issues, but in this post, we're going to explore five of the most common types of issues that you might expect to see if you grew up in an addicted household.


If you are an adult child of an alcoholic or addicted home, you may have great difficulty with change.


Of course, no one likes change, but if you're an adult child of an alcoholic, you may have more difficulty with this than other people. Let's say the plans change at the last minute, or something that you were really looking forward to fell through. The reason for this increased difficulty dealing with that is when you grow up in an addicted household, you never know what's going to happen. You're living in a constant state of fear and anxiety, because sometimes you come home and everything's all good, and other times stuff can hit the fan in an instant.

When you grow up in a situation like this you crave consistency and stability, so in adulthood when you get these curveballs thrown at you, it's re-triggering some of your childhood trauma.

This isn't a symptom that everyone who grew up in an addicted household has. In fact, I grew up in an addicted household. I think that I probably have an even better ability to deal with curveballs than others.


You have an over sensitivity to other people's needs.


As you could imagine, growing up as a child in a chaotic or dysfunctional home one of the ways that you learn to survive is to read the room, and understand what's going on with other people. That's kind of how you manage all of those curveballs that get thrown your way. Children that grow up in homes like this are so in tune with the people around them. They can pick up on the smallest change in vibrations because it truly becomes a survival coping skill. You can also see this in the opposite form, which is where you might be overly sensitive to your own needs, because as a child you may have been neglected. Your needs weren't met, people were inconsiderate of you and because of that, you had to learn that you are the only one that could look out for your own needs.

The way you'll see this triggered in adulthood, one can be highly offended and even become very angry when they perceive someone around them as being thoughtless or inconsiderate.

When you see things like that happen, it triggers that childhood experience. You may have difficulty opening up and really truly showing yourself to other people, because on a deep level from your childhood you don't really feel like other people can meet your needs, or that you can trust other people in that kind of way to take your shield all the way down. On the other extreme of that, you may have difficulties with being overly vulnerable and you may see this show up in your life if you have a tendency to share too much too quickly or trust too quickly.

This is an over vulnerability and it's an adaptation of a coping skill that you likely developed in childhood as a way to survive. You see connection with other human beings is absolutely imperative and necessary for our survival. If you grow up in a home where your parent or parents didn't have the capacity to connect to you, an adaptive mechanism might be to start figuring out how to connect quickly to other people. However, in adulthood, this can definitely lead to some problems.


Difficulties with attachment. Vulnerability and attachment, are two things that go hand in hand.


You may find that you either have a very difficult time forming and sustaining long-term relationships with people, or you may find that you have a difficult time, because you attach too quickly. The psychology of attachment is fascinating, and there is a lot to learn here. You may have difficulty with issues around responsibility. Pretty often what you're going to see is that an adult child of an alcoholic can tend to be overly responsible for the other people around them. This happens because somewhere in their childhood they became almost like a "parentified" role. A lot of times if the parent can't function as the responsible one, one of the kids in the household will step up to that plate and assume that sort of care-taking type role. That continues over into adulthood the thing about "over responsibility". It looks on the surface like it's a good trait, you're going to receive a lot of validation and recognition for this trait, but it can ultimately lead you to a very unhealthy place. Your relationships can be lopsided, and you end up feeling very resentful and frustrated when you overtake responsibility for the people around you.

Conversely, if you grow up in an addicted household you may have difficulty accepting responsibility, so you can definitely find yourself on the other extreme of this, especially if your role in your family as a child was being the scapegoat. A lot of times with the scapegoat role, the person that's in that role is very angry and upset about what's going on in the house. They're not getting their needs met well and they begin to act out and call attention to the real problem, which is the addiction that's going on in the family.

The acting out can result in you not being responsible for your grades as a child, or not being able to hold a job, or making all kinds of other reckless and impulsive decisions.


It's hard for us to really narrow down and pinpoint what exactly it is that's causing these symptoms and a lot of times you can go back to this checklist. You can say okay, that is the trigger here, that's what's hitting my button.


If you find that you're really struggling with some of these patterns, and you're ready to break free of them once and for all. You might want to consider getting yourself a counselor if you don't already have one because these are issues that your counselor or coach can help you work through or help you dig through your history like things that happened in your childhood so that you can best identify specifically what your triggers are.

Amber Hollingsworth



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