As Tammy and Teri have described, living in an alcoholic or dysfunctional family can cause problems that carry over for generations to come. It is so important to recognize, deal with, and change those patterns of problems for the upcoming generation to feel true freedom from the dysfunction. One thing we see a lot, are families where the chains of addictions have been broken, however, the dysfunctional behaviors still exist in the family system. It is important to not be in denial because you or your partner may not be an addict. You could still be carrying over some of the behaviors of one. Here are a few more characteristics. Adult children of alcoholics over-react to changes over which they have no control. You see a lot of anxiety when something changes that the person truly can't do anything about. Specifically, if it is someone starting additive behaviors, but not limited to that in any way.
Adult children of alcoholics constantly seek approval and affirmation. As mentioned earlier, many adults will not have drinking or drug addictions, if their parents did. They swore they would never do that. So many times we see them have approval addictions. They are trying to please everyone all the time and seeking the affirmation they didn't get while their parents were "using".
Adult children usually feel that they are different from other people. Because they don't know what "normal" is and they know something at home is not right, they grow up thinking they are not "normal". But because the typical pattern is to not talk about things like this, they don't talk to anyone to find out what normal is. So they feel different. Not special, different.
As you can see, many areas of an adult child of an alcoholic (or dysfunction) are effected by the addiction. The biggest structure that keeps the addiction going is denial. So it's easy to be in denial of how it effects you as an adult.
Tomorrow Joleen will give us a few more characteristics and give us some valuable resources to help. Thank you for reading!
Adapted from Janet Geringer Woititz, Ed. D.
*Natalie Chandler, MA, LMHC is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Natalie enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, and couples counseling. We also specialize in family counseling, child, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Westfield, and Zionsville.