In the world of AA programs, there are two types of “Children of Alcoholics (COA)” – adult children (ACOA) and actual children. One might think that adult children (a.k.a. adults) would be able to get over living their childhood in a home, but many do not. Many do not even realize the aftereffects of living in this type of home.
I grew up in this type of home. My father was an alcoholic from day one. I never realized the effect this had on me, long-term, until I finally quit drinking myself and went into therapy. I fit the personality profile of an ACOA perfectly. The major result of living in an alcoholic home is that you become an alcoholic yourself.
ACOA’s are often more isolated or introverted than the average person and have a fear or anxiety around authority figures – teachers, bosses, the law. They go out of their way to please these people to prevent being criticized. ACOA’s often supplement their own alcoholism with other personality or psychological disorders such as depression, other addictions, or compulsive activities.
The relationships that ACOA’s choose are often doomed from the beginning. They either choose another addict or someone who can function as a co-dependent. The relationships are usually not healthy because of the insecurities and anxiety of the ACOA.
I have never been to an ACOA-AA meeting but imagine I would find a room full of people who looked, sounded, and acted just like me. People who had the same miserable relationship stories. People who had the same issues, problems, and concerns. Being an ACOA is not something you can really grow out of or get over, and that has always bothered me. It seems that at my age, I should be able to get over my childhood. Maybe you never do.