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Children of Alcoholics


Who are children of alcoholics? If your parent's drinking has caused problems for you, then you may be a child of an alcoholic. You may be a kid or an adult. It might have been your mom, dad, live-in grandparent or even step- parent. As long as the drinker was in some way like a parent to you, you can call yourself a child of an alcoholic.

The answer is so simple it almost sounds silly. If someone else's drinking is causing you a problem, that's too much. This includes drinking too much liquor, beer, wine or wine coolers. Same goes for other drugs - including prescription pills. Every day or just on weekends. Whether they hide drinks or drugs at home or never use in the house. An estimated 6.6 million children under the age of 18 years live in households with at least one alcoholic parent. Current research findings suggest that these children are at risk for a range of cognitive, emotional, and behavioral problems.

If you're not sure there is a problem, check out the questions below:

  • Have you ever wanted your parent to cut down on his/her drinking?
  • Have you ever felt angry about your parent's drinking?
  • Have you ever felt guilty about your parent's drinking?
  • Does your parent ever have a drink first thing in the morning?

If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, your mom or dad might have an alcohol problem.

If you are one of the millions of adults who grew up with an alcoholic or drug abusing parent, chances are you think about it as little as possible. After all, it was probably painful, and you may feel there is nothing you can do now about what happened in the past.
Maybe you think your parents drinking or drug use never really got that bad, or maybe you were already in your teens when the binges started happening more often. People can't go on blaming their parents all their lives, you may figure, so what is the point of bringing up all that sad, ancient history.

Adult children of alcoholics frequently stay in abusive situations. Abusers may be parents, employers, spiritual advisors, lovers, spouses, friends, sponsors or yes, therapists. Abuse arises from a sick need, (frequently of someone who was also abused) to control, vent anger, boost a sick ego, or to stamp out signs of health, dissension, independence, love, kindness or joy--expression which the abuser resents or doesn't understand and may thus label as "weakness".

Many people report being exposed to alcoholism in their families.

  • Seventy six million Americans, about 43% of the U.S. adult population, have been exposed to alcoholism in the family.
  • Almost one in five adult Americans (18%) lived with an alcoholic while growing up.
  • Roughly one in eight American adult drinkers is alcoholic or experiences problems due to the use of alcohol. The cost to society is estimated at in excess of $166 billion each year.
  • There are an estimated 26.8 million COAs in the United States. Preliminary research suggests that over 11 million are under the age of 18.


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