How Alcoholic Parents Affect Adult Children

Parents and children can have a healthy, supportive relationship without having to use substances. Substance abuse disorder can lead to a traumatizing childhood. If the parent who is causing your anxiety is also the one you seek for support, comfort, and protection, you are at greater risk of suffering from long-term stress later in life.

These parents may have difficulty with their adult children and could be more at risk for developing an addiction. Learn how being a child of an alcoholic (COA), can hurt your life and how you can break the cycle of addiction.

The traits of adult children of alcoholics

The unique trauma experienced by children of an alcoholic parent is known as the “child of an alcohol addict syndrome”. These symptoms can include addiction, anger issues, and trauma in adult children of an alcoholic (ACOAs).

If left untreated, these symptoms can have a significant impact on a person’s daily life and relationships. If you’re struggling with ACOA syndrome symptoms, it is important to understand how you can treat them.

1. Addiction

Children who live in homes with alcohol addiction are often faced with uncertainty and chaos every day of their lives. Children in these households are more likely to suffer neglect, violence, and abuse, which can all be risk factors for alcohol addiction.

The tendency to have alcohol use disorder in the family is also common — children of alcoholics are 4 times more likely to become addicted to alcohol than other children.

2. Trauma

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which affects adults who have had alcoholic parents, can cause panic attacks and extreme fear in the wake of traumatic memories. These symptoms are believed to be linked to the child’s environment.

This environment can cause trauma in a variety of ways.

Chronic trauma: Alcohol can increase tendencies toward violent behavior — what socially acceptable responses are to certain situations. They may lie even when there is enough truth, which can lead to distrust in relationships and the workplace.

5. Control is essential

ACOAs share a common trait: a need to control. The stability of homes with alcohol addiction is often lower in those where one or both of the parents are involved. ACOAs can experience problems with control in every aspect of their lives, including relationships and careers. Some may even Inpatient and Outpatient Addiction Treatment Centers can help break the cycle. These programs typically include trauma-focused therapy sessions and medical-assisted detox. They also teach healthy coping strategies to replace addictive behaviors.

Alcohol rehab can help adult children of alcoholic parents overcome the damage that was done as a result of living with an alcoholic parent. This damage can include problems with relationships, mental health, and addiction. Alcohol rehab can provide the individual with the support they need to heal and move on.


Adult children of alcoholic parents often struggle with several issues. Some common problems include substance abuse, low self-esteem, and difficulty forming healthy relationships. It can be difficult to overcome these difficulties, but there are ways to do so. If you or someone you know is affected by the effects of an alcoholic parent, it is important to seek help. There are professionals who can guide you through the process of healing and rebuilding your life.