Children with alcoholic parents

More than 78 million Americans, or 43 percent of the adult population, has been exposed to alcoholism in the family, according to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependency. For decades, efforts at understanding and treating alcoholism have focused primarily on alcoholics and the havoc this disease has brought to their lives. Later, groups such as Al-Anon and Alateen examined the effects that alcoholism had on the relatives and friends of alcoholics.

Children with alcoholic parents

He desperately wanted his father to stop drinking, but time and time again the promises his father made to quit were broken. Plus, who knew what would happen to his dad if he took off? So, he stayed and was left to fend for himself.

His dad would often stumble in at one or two in the morning, after hitting the bars. Isaiah longed for a relationship with his father, but most of all he longed for a life without broken promises.

Many children of alcoholics, often referred to as "COAs," live in homes filled with stress, financial hardship, instability, neglect and violence. Unfortunately, these vulnerable youth often struggle academically, behaviorally and emotionally.

Children living in this environment may run the gamut of feelings such as anger, embarrassment, shame and most of all hurt. They can also develop insecurities that can lead to emotional scars that they carry well into adulthood.

Additionally, many of these children have had to grow up quickly and take on adult roles. They often become parentified and assume caretaker responsibilities.

Sadly, these children miss out on something that so many children take for granted: These children grow up without the comfort of trust. The chances that these youth will become alcohol-dependent are far greater than peers without alcoholic parents.

Plus, there is a strong correlation between genetic traits and the development of alcoholism. Statistics tell us that approximately 25 percent of children of alcoholics also become dependent on alcohol in their lifetime.

Not only are their chances of alcoholism greater, but they are also at an increased risk of abuse and neglect, and getting into a romantic relationship with an addict later in life. Children of alcoholics are at an increased risk for anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorders many have a strong desire to be perfectisolation, and even post-traumatic stress disorder PTSD.

There is no question about it; childhood should be a time of excitement, discovery, growth and development. Unfortunately, alcoholism robs not only the alcoholic of his or her life, but also robs their children of childhood.

Alcoholism is a disease that is treatable. Also, know that you cannot burden yourself with the responsibility of getting your loved one to stop drinking. That decision has to be made by the alcoholic. If your parent does choose to change, rest assured that once the healing begins, the broken promises can end.

Your child needs a relationship with you.

Children with alcoholic parents

Just as you will need professional help, so will your child.No. 17; Updated December One in five adult Americans have lived with an alcoholic relative while growing up. In general, these children are at greater risk for having emotional problems than children whose parents are not alcoholics.

According to the late Janet Woititz, Ed.D., who performed extensive research on the effects of parental alcoholism on adult children and authored the book "Adult Children of Alcoholics," many of the characteristics described by adults who were raised by alcoholic parents are the same as those also reported by children who were physically or sexually abused by a parent.

Children who were adopted or lived in foster homes, with parents who demonstrated compulsive behaviors such as gambling or overeating, with a parent who had a chronic illness, and/or who were raised by overly strict religious parents also display many of the same traits as children of alcoholics.

Children of alcoholics face risks of mental health trauma and substance abuse in their own adult years, but whether they make the choices of their parents is a complex issue.

News & Articles. Campaign aims to bridge the gap between parents, children. A larger-than-life display urging Murray parents to bridge the gap with their children by discussing the harmful effects of underage drinking hangs from the bridge outside Murray High School on Tuesday, May 30, Children living with alcohol-dependent parents reported feeling socially isolated and, just as bad, they were reluctant to seek help due to .

Parents of Estranged Adult Children