Take Action to Deal with Your Past

Adult children of alcoholics share characteristics

If you were raised by parents who were alcoholics, it’s likely that you suffered emotional pain. The past can’t be erased, but with help you can start to heal. A good first step is trying to understand how the situation affected you.

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

  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 and lock themselves into a course of action without giving serious consideration to alternative behaviors or possible consequences

Educate yourself on the most common behavior patterns for adult children of alcoholics and identify what fits for you.

  • Practice awareness of those patterns in order to redirect toward healthier actions
  • Seek help from a professional if the impact is your own addiction, depression or anxiety
  • If your employer has an EAP, consider making an appointment for free, confidential counseling

If your employer offers EAP counseling through Mayo Clinic Health System, call 608-392-9530 or 800-493-3960 to set up a free, confidential appointment.

Not sure? Ask your supervisor if you have an EAP!

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