Why Adult Children of Alcoholics Should Seek Professional Counseling
Alcohol is the most common form of addiction in the United States. It’s been estimated that there are close to 20 million alcoholics in the U.S. That means roughly one out of every 12 adults suffers from alcohol abuse or dependence. And this doesn’t include the several million individuals who engage in risky, binge-drinking behaviors.
And, as with all addictions, it not just the alcoholics who suffer …
In addition to the spouses or partners of alcoholics, it’s likely the children of alcoholics suffer the most. And the effects of being raised in an alcoholic household can last a lifetime. This is especially so if the problem goes unacknowledged and unaddressed.
According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, an estimated 26.8 million children are exposed to alcoholism in their families. These children are at higher risk for alcoholism and other drug abuse than are children of non-alcoholics, and are also more likely to marry an alcoholic later in life.
Fortunately, help is available for these children, whether they are still children or are now the adult children of alcoholics …
How Does Living with an Alcoholic Impact a Child’s Life?
Children that grow up in the home of an alcoholic are forced to deal with a variety of issues, some immediate and some that don’t materialize until later in their adulthood. The problems suffered by adult children of alcoholics can include:
- Anger Management Issues – Often children end up resenting an alcoholic parent and that resentment eventually turns to anger. A child that comes from an alcoholic home may feel anger both towards the alcoholic parent as well as the non-alcoholic parent for not protecting them. Unfortunately, if this resentment and anger is repressed and goes unexpressed, it still finds a way to come out … often uncontrollably in the adult child’s personal and professional relationships.
- Attachment Issues – Children living in a home with an alcoholic parent never know what to expect from the parent, often on both physical and emotional levels. This can lead to confusion and attachment issues for the child that continue into adulthood, making it difficult for the adult child to trust others and form lasting connections.
- Anxiety – Similar to the attachment issues described above, a child never knowing what to expect from an alcoholic parent leads to no small amount of anxiety, if not outright fear. And, again, unless addressed, this anxiety is more than likely to carry on well into adulthood.
- Depression – Many children of alcoholics feel embarrassed by their situation at home or feel guilty that they’re somehow responsible for the parent’s problem, both of which can result in the child withdrawing from family members and friends and lead to feelings and patterns of isolation, loneliness, and depression later in life.
As you can see, while all of these issues stem from childhood and being raised in the home of alcoholic parent, none of these problems “go away” once the child leaves home.
Without professional treatment, the emotional and behavior problems brought on by growing up in the home of an alcoholic parent can negatively impact one’s personal and professional relationships throughout their life.
Can Professional Counseling or Psychotherapy Help?
If you’re one of the millions of people who grew up with an addict, it’s more than likely that you’re still suffering from some form of anxiety or depression and are still carrying the family pain or shame. You’re also more likely to be, or become, romantically involved with an alcoholic or addict.
Professional counseling or psychotherapy can help you:
- Understand the impact your parents’ alcoholism has had on you and the choices you make;
- Develop coping strategies to deal with an anxiety or depression issues with which you’re struggling;
- Learn to open up and become more trusting and vulnerable in your personal relationships, all of which are vital for intimacy;
- Recover from any addiction issues you’re struggling with as a result of your parent’s addiction; and
- Acknowledge and express any feelings you’ve repressed, whether about your parents or your self, so you can move forward in your life with confidence and optimism.
Having to grow up in the family of an alcoholic can be an extremely painful beginning. But, if confronted and worked through with the help of a professional counselor or psychotherapist, the pain needn’t be a burden you suffer and carry for the rest of your life.
You can reclaim your childhood and become the adult you want to be … You can live a better life. And all it takes is being willing to ask for and seek out professional help!
If you have any questions regarding this article, or if I may be of any other assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact me at 408-309-5957 or email me at Talks2people@yahoo.com. I look forward to speaking with you and helping you create a life you truly love living!