Personality Traits Link Adult Children of Alcoholics

13 common traits

As unpredictable as it is to grow up with a parent who abuses alcohol, the effect on adults who lived through it can be predicted. Consistent personality types emerge and belief systems are instilled; the results of those factors are mixed. Some children grow up trying to prove themselves worthy and then experience anxiety and exhaustion from always needing to please others. Other children grow into a new generation that abuses substances to cope with emotional pain and stress. Addiction in a family creates a harsh reality when adult children finally recognize the painful consequences that have resulted.

As a manager, you may recognize some members of your team in the list below. Making the shareable content provided in this issue available to your entire team may provide an opportunity for some members to think about their past and try to heal from the emotional wounds that they carry.

The late Janet Woititz is widely acknowledged as the founder of the adult children of alcoholics (ACoA) movement. She developed this list of 13 common traits.

  1. Can only guess what normal behavior is
  2. Have difficulty following a project from beginning to end
  3. Lie when it would be just as easy to tell the truth
  4. Judge themselves without mercy
  5. Have difficulty having fun
  6. Take themselves very seriously
  7. Have difficulty with intimate relationships
  8. Overreact to changes over which they have no control
  9. Constantly seek approval and affirmation
  10. Usually feel that they are different from other people
  11. Are either super responsible or super irresponsible—there’s no middle ground
  12. Are extremely loyal, even in the face of evidence that the loyalty is undeserved
  13. Are impulsive. They tend to lock themselves into a course of action without giving serious consideration to alternative behaviors or possible consequences. This impulsiveness leads to confusion, self-loathing and loss of control over their environment.
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